BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — When you walk into Southtown Lanes in Bloomington, you're instantly greeted with warmth and a dose of friendly competition.
"If somebody throws a gutter ball, call it out," said Wonnie Emily.
"I like to be with competitive people because it makes me concentrate a little more. It makes me try a little more," said Ellen Johnson.
The NBA All-Stars Bowling League takes up over two dozen lanes. The league has been around since the late 1960s.
"We've been expanding and growing, and now we're at 30 teams, said Dwight Tole, president of the league. "There’s a lot of great bowlers out here. A lot of friends and family try to get other people into it."
Tole says bowlers keep coming back every year for the competition and to try to score a perfect game. But the main reason for returning is because this league feels like a family.
"It's almost like we've been knowing people for 10, 20 years," said Gary Banks. "We go to parties. We hang out. We play cards or dominoes afterward."
In this league of 204 bowlers, every "family member" brings something to the table, whether it's a good laugh...
"When I get my 300, I'm hanging up every ball I got, and I got 13 of them," said Emily.
A good piece of wisdom...
"The best advice I can give you is to get out there and do it," said Banks.
Or a willingness to learn.
"My biggest goal is to be a 200+ bowler comfortably and get a couple of 300s under my belt," said Nkosane "Sunny" Lee.
Being in a family means you look out for each other.
"The young people really try hard and they're just into the game. I watched a lot of them, and they are improving," said Johnson.
Being in a family means you always want the best for each other, even if you're not blood-related.
"If you're having problems, they'll help you with something," said Lee.
Family isn't always who's around you your whole life. It's also who you choose to spend your time with.
"We're all family here, everyone," said Emily.
The season just wrapped up, but the league is always looking for people to join. If you'd like to join, contact Southtown Lanes for more information.
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