Mr. Wash. U., Relay bowl people for charity
We as a human race may never truly know what it is like to be inside a football being hurled down the field by Bart Starr or the putter of Jack Nicklaus as he taps the ball down the green. Most of us will never even know the feeling of being inside a bag of popcorn as the kernels explode. Luckily, Mr. Wash. U. and Relay for Life made the feeling of being inside a bowling ball accessible to all.
This past Saturday night, Tisch Commons was divided into two lanes for Human Bowling, Mr. Wash. U. and Relay for Life’s joint fundraising event. Human bowling, as the name might suggest, consists of large, inflatable balls with space for a single person inside—when someone gets out, it kind of looks like a baby bird launching itself out of a transparent egg. The balls were self-propelled down a lane and into the six towering pins before turning around and rolling back to the starting line.
Throughout the four-round, 16-team relay event, there was much cheering as each participant rolled down his or her lane for a strike. Teams were limited to five members each, with names ranging from Team Left Shark to Surfboardt to Newton’s Third. Competition was fierce but friendly. Whenever a bowler left a spare behind, the whole crowd erupted in supportive chants of “Go back! Go back!”
Sophomore Taylor McGuire, a Mr. Wash. U. candidate and member of Team Surfboardt, said that being inside the ball was an exhilarating experience: “It was silent on the inside in a very scary way.” As part of the pin setup team, which quickly reset the pins after every bowl, she joked, “You see your life flash before your eyes every time [the ball comes toward you].”
Human Bowling came about as a replacement for the long-running Vermonster challenge, a similarly team-based competition, albeit one based around ice cream instead of bowling. Senior Christian Gordon, co-president of Mr. Wash. U., said that while brainstorming for new events, “The [Danforth University Center] sort of had a few ideas, and they presented this and we all really liked it.”
Turnout Saturday night was significant, with several teams signing up the day of the event. Team members, organization members and spectators were enthusiastic throughout the event. Several families were also in attendance and the children’s wide-eyed amazement is surely a testament to Human Bowling’s entertainment value. After all, what child wouldn’t want to be in an oversized bouncy ball, careening through a public area?
Human Bowling isn’t an annual tradition quite yet, however. “I think we’ll kind of assess what everybody thought of the event and re-evaluate later,” Rachel Catanese, social media chair for Team Development at Relay for Life, said. But, Catanese added, “I think it was a success and everybody liked it.”
As the event rolled on and the crowd thinned to only the most hardcore fans, the stage was set for the championship round: team Strike Squad against team Bowl so Hardd. While the two teams were neck and neck through the first two rolls, Strike Squad took a small lead with the third.
It’s worth pausing here to mention that there seem to be several challenges involved with the sport of human bowling. Not the least of these is getting in and out of the ball efficiently and zipping up the entrance of the ball to ensure safety.
Therefore, after a quick team member transition into the fourth roll, Strike Squad pulled out far in front, giving them a sure victory by the final roll.
After their victory, the members of Strike Squad, made up of Gordon and freshmen Bryan Steiner, Monica Lim, Danny Teich and Mike Kramer, spoke to Student Life about their experience.
When asked if they expected to win, Kramer slyly shrugged and said, “Always gotta hope.”
The team came together when an email from Diane-Jo Bart-Plange, William Greenleaf Eliot resident adviser and co-president of Mr. Wash. U., prompted Teich to text some friends and see if they were interested.
“I thought it sounded like one of the coolest things I’d ever seen—to be inside a giant hamster ball,” Teich said.
Kramer, the final bowler of the team and the one who brought home the victory, was quick to give credit to the other members. “Monica [Lim] started us strong, Danny [Teich] and Brian [Steiner] were the anchors, and then Christian [Gordon] and I brought it home.”
Strike Squad’s prize was 25 Bear Bucks for each team member. Beyond that, all proceeds from the event were split equally between Relay for Life and Mr. Wash. U.
Editor’s note: This article’s headline has been amended to reflect the cooperation between Mr. Wash. U. and Relay for Life.