Any time something is done for the first time, it can hold a lot of feelings, emotions, experiences, memories, and maybe even some highlights. At almost every IGBO tournament, there is at least one if not several first-timers. The recent Sweetheart Tournament in Wallingford, CT, this past February was no exception. I was lucky afterward to ask a few of them some questions and to reflect upon their experiences. I started by asking them to share what made them bowl in their first IGBO tournament. The overall answer was “My friends asked me to bowl and it sounded like fun so I said yes.” Naturally, I then asked if it was as fun as they were told it would be and it was a resounding “Yes!” Amanda Rose Searle of Berlin, CT shared, “it was so friendly and welcoming. I was nervous playing the Singles but made friends easily.”
IGBO tournaments are definitely full of competition. When I asked these IGBO tournament newbies, they reflected upon the competitive experience with statements like, “So friendly! It was a welcoming competitive spirit,” and “I felt that other teams were serious bowlers but were still there to have fun,” as well as “I liked the different bowling events and competing against other teams on a larger scale than a league.” In many IGBO tournaments, there are multiple types of extras when it comes to competition. The Sweetheart Tournament had side pots, brackets, and the Lucky Ball, a skill shot with a progressive jackpot. I asked our first-timers what they thought of these extra optional events. The newbies did not back away from these parts of the competition either. Kaitlyn Rose of the CT Pride Bowlers League shared, “I entered into as many raffles and pots that I could. I love an extra layer of gambling and competition.” Amanda Rose agreed saying, “They kept me from goofing off and they are done in categories so I feel like anyone can win despite their average.”
Highlights or special memories at a tournament can come from the bowling itself as well as outside the competition off the lanes during times of fellowship. I asked these first-timers what the highlights were for them. Their answers ranged from “seeing the size of the tournament” and “a personal best during my first game of the tournament” to the excitement built with every new drawing of the Lucky Ball raffle number until the winner hit the correct number of pins and won. First-timer Ryan Alexander of Berlin, CT stated some highlights for him were the side prizes and raffles outside of the bowling competition, reflecting that he “won the 50/50 raffle. I always buy raffles.” He and the others also stated that a real highlight was the banquet afterward. They reflected with such comments as “It was fun and exciting. I enjoyed hearing people’s accomplishments,” and “It was just as fun as the tournament itself,” along with “It was nice to hang with people in a more casual setting, plus the ongoing extra raffles were fun and the food and drinks were great.”
IGBO is known for its “Giving Back” and the Sweetheart Tournament actively gives back through multiple fundraisers throughout the year and through funds raised during the tournament. I asked how big this part of the tournament was to the newbies. Their reflections were very supportive, sharing how they were all happy to be a part of the giving process through bowling in the tournament. All of them stated the table that was manned at the bowling alley was a great opportunity for people to learn about the tournament’s Giving Back recipient and how the funds would be used by them. Ryan reflected, “As a member of the Armed Forces, finding ways to give back to the community is instilled upon us and is as important as serving the community.”
I asked if they would reflect in their own words on their overall experience attending their first IGBO tournament. One bowler described it as “positive, enjoyable, fun and the best weekend I have had in a while.” Another shared, “Attending the IGBO tournament felt like an extension of my league in that it was filled with friendly individuals who all want to have fun together, meet new people and friends, enjoy some competition and gambling, and overall just build fun memories."
Of course, my last question was in reflecting on your own experience, what are your thoughts on attending another IGBO tournament as well as recommending or inviting others to bowl in one? Again, their reflections were positive like, “I’m very excited to participate in next year’s tournament and see what other tournaments I can maybe join throughout the year.” Another one reflected, “Even though I’m in two bowling leagues, I don’t actually care for sports all that much, and I’m not a competitive person, but this event and this community of people definitely has me considering participating in another IGBO tournament.” For these first-timers, their first IGBO Tournament was definitely a positive experience of competition, fun, friends, fellowship, and giving back. One bowler closed their reflection with, “I’ve already talked to about five people about going next year, I’ve already registered for the tournament in Rochester.”
Being a first-timer to an IGBO tournament is truly a memorable time and we hope you can soon experience yours if you haven’t already. If you have experienced your first time or if you’re like many of us who have attended multiple tournaments, share with your fellow league bowlers and friends and encourage them not to miss out on their first-time tournament experience. See you at a tournament soon!