Yousef El-laham has quickly become a force to be reckoned with on the Junior Bowling scene throughout the region. But, what no one expected was the impact he would have at the Jr. Gold tournament last July contested over three days in Las Vegas.
This was El-laham’s first time competing nationally and to say that he was victim of the “rookie jitters” might be an understatement. For those who have never seen an event of this size it can be a little overwhelming at first.
In his first of three six game blocks Yousef managed to grind a total of 906 (151 avg.) for the block. Here is where many would have simply pulled up their stakes and given up. But El-laham has proven on many occasions he is not like most. He has more Heart and determination than many.
Determined to rebound, Yousef spent some time later in the day processing what may have gone wrong in the block. His coaches Fran and Courtney Varin helped him through the process but, it was all Yousef who made the decision to bowl with “reckless abandon” leaving nothing on the lanes. You see El-laham learned a valuable lesson. There is a huge difference between bowling not to lose and bowling to win. He realized that his experience week in and week out back home bowling in the R. I. Flyers Scratch Sport Division had prepared him for such a tournament. He had bowled virtually exclusively on the same WTBA conditions for several years. Once he realized this, the Yousef we have all come to know shinned through.
On the second day of competition El-laham ran up a total of 1173 (195 avg.). He started the block by holding his own. But, in the third game he did something no R. I. Flyer had done to date and perhaps few if any from our region have ever done.
After a 9 open in the first frame Yousef slammed home the next 11 strikes for an eye popping 279 scratch. That earned him a Sport Bowling 11 in a row award at the largest most prestigious Junior Bowling event in the nation.
El-laham’s focus was amazing, he had not realized what he accomplished, he was just simply in the moment. He stepped up on the approach at Sunset Station in the first frame of the fourth game. His coaches watched from the bleachers as he rolled his 12th consecutive strike for an “Andy Varipapa 300”.
Yousef did not realize what he had done. Anyone who knows him knows that he simply loves the game. It doesn’t matter how he is doing on a given day he just simply loves to roll the ball. Oh, his fierce competitive nature may brood over not excelling but, he loves it nonetheless.
His modesty shined through when his coaches asked if he knew what just happened. He really had no idea, it had not hit him…yet. Yousef was actually almost too modest to even ask for the award form. His coaches had to push him to follow through.
The last day of the event, El-laham finished with a 1092 giving him a composite average of 176 for the tournament. He finished 681 out of 1070 due largely to the “rookie jitters” in the first block.
But this is not the real story. It’s more about a bowler coming of age. Courtney Varin took Yousef under her wing and guided him through the dangerous waters of ball and line choice. She did an excellent job in her coaching debut. But, we were both privileged to watch as Yousef took a giant leap in his bowling career. It’s that “ah ha” moment that an athlete has after all of the hours of work and coaching have passed that makes the coach’s job so rewarding. The old saying is certainly true, that growth comes from losing rather than winning. A coach can teach many things but sometimes an athlete needs to experience it first hand in order to really understand and “own” it. Such is the case with Yousef. This lesson will stay with him his entire career. So, the numbers weren’t there but, didn’t El-laham really win after all?
Yousef, the Flyers’ coaching staff is very proud of your accomplishment and your example to all of the bowlers in the program and to those that read this article.