RENO, Nev. - When it comes to challenges at the United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships, most have only to correct a weak stance, figure out the oil pattern or get their minds in the game to find success. Few have to overcome obstacles like those faced by Sabrina Taylor of Humboldt, Kan.
Taylor, a 34-year-old right-hander, nearly lost her arm in a bowling-center accident in March 2006. As the manager of Country Lanes in neighboring Iola, Kan., she was overseeing a tournament when the pinsetter jammed. Taylor headed to the back to fix it and became fully immersed in the machinery when an anxious bowler tossed a ball and suddenly unjammed the system - trapping Taylor inside.
"I was stuck there for 45 minutes because they couldn't get my right arm free; it was caught up to my armpit," Taylor said. "I was telling people what to do to stop the machinery, but I was hurt so bad they thought I was not lucid at the time. To further complicate matters, they couldn't get a hold of the owner."
Taylor's friends stayed with her the entire time - ladies who also bowl alongside her at the USBC Women's Championships.
Following emergency surgeries, a plastic surgeon worked on the arm, so she could use it. Taylor had tendon transfers, or movement of key tendons, so she now can move her thumb and wrist. Her index finger is the only one with independent movement, and her entire arm still experiences numbness with a constant dull ache. But that is better than the excruciating pain she first suffered through, she says.
"The injury cut the nerve to my arm, so the nerve jumps even now because it's not connected to anything," Taylor said. "The first two months were so painful I begged them to just cut off my arm. I just wanted to not hurt and to get my life back on track and go back to work."
A combination of occupational and physical therapy three times weekly helped, although the four-hour commute each day was draining, too. She eventually learned to do everything with her left arm, except bowl.
After everything, she even was able to improve her average. Taylor raised it almost 30 pins from 125 and still bowls in three leagues each week, all at Country Lanes. She is a certified bowling coach, and it seems she is her best pupil.
"Oddly enough, I still bowl right-handed, but due to the numbness, I can't feel my ball," Taylor said. "To compensate, I went to a two-pound heavier ball and a fingertip grip."
This week, Taylor made her seventh appearance at the Women's Championships. She entered with a 149 average, placing her in the Sapphire Division. She rolled a 487 series in singles, 442 in doubles and 421 in team for a 1,350 all-events total. All scores include handicap.
The Sapphire Division includes bowlers with averages of 149 and below, with handicap based on 100 percent of 150.
Presenting sponsors for the 2012 USBC Women's Championships are Circus Circus, Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nev. Other sponsors include Harrah's Reno Casino, official brackets sponsor, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Humana, official registration sponsor, Steltronic, official scoring system, and supporting sponsors Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, Sands Regency Casino Hotel and Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa and MyBowlingVacation.com.