Every Wednesday at 8:43 p.m. for the past three years, senior Tyler Sill and I have traveled to Pheasant Lanes bowling alley in Bloomington. In August 2010, we found ourselves searching for a change of pace from the usual college routine.
When we learned that Pheasant offers $5 all-you-can-bowl on Wednesday nights from 9-11 p.m. for college students, the Wednesday Night Bowling Association (WNBA) was born.
The WNBA has successfully provided members with a reason to get excited about every week here at Illinois Wesleyan University. It has become a meditative sanctuary where no negative vibes exist.
“I co-founded this club in order to provide IWU students the opportunity to do something different,” Sill said. “WNBA’s mission statement, ‘Pleasant Games at Pheasant Lanes,’ really sums it up. We work to strike up friendships, one turkey at a time.”
Since its founding in 2010, the WNBA has seen a revolving door of membership similar to the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. However, seniors Luke Radliff and Dan Oswald have emerged as core members.
The WNBA abides by several rules that have given the club a strong name. First, no actual names are ever used on the scoreboard. Creativity must be used to think of a name to amuse the fellas.
Next, polar pops must be purchased at Thornton’s either before bowling, after bowling, or both. Finally, no drama from real life can be brought to the lanes. Strict adherence to these rules has made WNBA membership a mentally and physically stimulating while relaxing experience.
“Membership in the WNBA has enriched my college experience in a number of ways,” Sill said. “Weekly traditions help get you through the week. They are something to look forward to and are something to take your mind off school. Weekly traditions with good people are going to be remembered forever when looking back at my college experience.”
Membership has been especially significant for Radliff. “One night, I settled on the name of my first born child: DeSalvage Radliff. The name was unanimously approved by fellow WNBA members,” Radliff said.
In addition to the psychological benefits of the WNBA, the core members have seriously honed their skills over the past few years. They have transformed from merely regular guys here at IWU to regular guys who also bowl well. All four frequently record scores over 200, including career bests over 250 for Sill, Oswald, and myself.
The core members have developed a belief in the “practice makes perfect” mentality, and they have all become more confident in real life because of bowling.
“Since bowling a 269, I now have the courage to talk to attractive females because I know they dig dudes who bowl high scores,” Oswald said.
Sill added, “Telling a girl I am a part of the WNBA is obviously a conversation starter. When I show them pictures of my highest bowling scores, game over.”
The core members have improved so drastically in terms of both bowling and life that they have formed an actual bowling team, The Bowl Movements. The four plan to continue bowling post-graduation, and they encourage others to do the same.
“Others should bowl, because you’re not just practicing rolling a ball at pins,” Oswald claimed. “You’re practicing life.”
The fellas of the WNBA will cherish the memories they made on the lanes forever. Senior Kevin Callahan’s ability to bowl a 200 with either hand, junior Kevin Miller’s pitter-patter approach, Sill’s flirtation with a perfect game, sophomore Kaileen Cumming’s refusal to take off her bowling shoes before leaving and the football team’s trip to the lanes in August 2012 are all moments that will live on in WNBA lore.
While starting a bowling club is a great break from the usual routine, it is not the only one. If bowling is not your thing, find other ways to have some good, old-fashioned fun here at IWU. During college especially, the emphasis is too heavily placed on resorting to alcohol or the party scene, sometimes even to the point where people convince themselves that it’s the only way they can have fun.
The lesson to be learned from the WNBA is that membership in clubs, whether they are officially school-sponsored or not, can enhance your life outlook and give you purpose. Being a part of something that is bigger than yourself improves your perspective and makes you a better person.
So go find something worthwhile to do, and find some worthwhile people to share it with. If you do this, I promise you will create lifetime memories and feel fulfilled. This is exactly what membership in the WNBA has done for me.