Friend of the podcast Jennifer Bowles (Matilda on Broadway and tour) shares how she fell in love with playing in the Broadway sports leagues.
I was never into sports growing up. I was always a little too shy, bookish, and focused on my ballet training to try out for a team. So, teenage me would be utterly baffled to know that I’ve been on two different softball teams and a bowling team in my adult years thanks to the Broadway community.
If you look up characteristics of a good team, you’ll find creativity, attention to detail, discipline, preparation, focus, and good leadership among many other traits. Those are all qualities that make exceptional theater as well. The Broadway community is a team in itself, so it isn’t a surprise that that translates well into our sports leagues.
American Idiot was my first Broadway show and my first time joining a softball league…Before I knew it, I had officially signed up to be a proud member of team “Idiot.” Full disclosure: I was pretty far out in right field and didn’t see much action (I quickly discovered a slightly severe issue with catching fly balls that season, a skill I very obviously didn’t hone as a kid), but I wasn’t terrible with a bat and enjoyed stepping up to the plate. Most of all, I loved getting together with my friends, both on my team and the opposing teams, for a little healthy competition, laughter, and sun. American Idiot gave me so much, but most importantly it welcomed me into this community and showed me what a loving family it is.
A couple of years later I began a two year long stint on team “Maggots,” this time rotating in as catcher (I learned a very sobering athletic lesson as an Idiot in the outfield!). Between softball seasons, though, we spent many a Thursday staying up late at the bowling alley, swapping our Maggots jerseys for “Trunchbowls” t-shirts.
Broadway Bowling’s casual vibe was right up my alley (terrible pun intended). Despite my sometimes super strong desire to get right to bed after the show, I bit the late night bullet many times and stayed all the way through both games. There’s always a huge turnout at bowling with friends at almost every single lane; so much of the joy I found there was in catching up with old pals. Whether it was cracking jokes and reminiscing at the bar with my buddy Andrew, getting into deep conversations over french fries with my best dude Oak, chatting with our jet-lagged creative team visiting from London, or somehow magically getting a spare and celebrating with my teammates…there was never a dull moment. Those fun and lively late nights unfailingly made the next day’s fuzzy brain and bleary eyes worth it.
When you first move to New York to pursue a career in the arts, it all seems so vast that you oftentimes feel alone or small. If you stick with it, though, you’ll carve out a space for yourself in this community…one of the most welcoming and inclusive groups of people I’ve ever had the great fortune to know. The Broadway bowling and softball leagues are an outstanding reminder of that comradeship.
Listen to our episode on Broadway Sports here.