WALLA WALLA - When Kim Holderman came back to Walla Walla after three years on the Professional Women's Bowling Association tour, she was beat. Physically and mentally.
The 1997 Walla Walla-High School graduate was burned out on the PWBA's travel schedule, and sporting a broken finger from bowling too hard in the weeks leading up to to the league's folding in 2003.
"When the PWBA broke up, I was ready to go home," Holderman said. "I wanted to slow down a little bit. I just needed to recuperate and take it easy."
She returned to Walla Walla and moved in with her parents, Rick and Donna Howerton, and found work with her mother at the College Place School District.
But for Holderman and her family, bowling isn't just a sport or a hobby. It's a lifetime compulsion.
Her father, Rick, learned from his father, and Rick passed on a love of bowling to his three children, Holderman and her twin brothers, John and Jason Howerton.
So, after settling down, getting married and having children, Holderman is back on the lanes - and back in professional form.
Her 223 average is tied for tops at Walla Walla's Stardust Lanes and better than the 215 average she sported when the PWBA folded.
Now a the head cook at the Park Manor Rehabilitation center, Holderman bowls frequently at both Stardust Lanes and Bowlaway Lanes in Eastgate.
And when the Howertons gather for holidays or family events, bowling is usually a family activity.
"It's great," Rick said of the shared pastime. "We (Rick and Kim) bowl every Tuesday night together and it's just great to do something together as a family."
Although Rick stopped coaching Holderman once her skill started to exceed his own, he isn't a slouch either.
The 58-year-old has bowled for half a century - since he was 8, for the mathematically challenged - and currently maintains a 213 average.
He recently came up a pin shy of rolling a perfect series after missing a pin in the second frame of the first game of what turned into an 879 series.
But for Rick, who spends about six hours a week bowling, it's the social element that he enjoys about bowling.
"I enjoy visiting with all the people and bowling with your friends," he said. "You're still playing a game, and it's still competitive a little bit, it's a challenge."
Holderman brought a lot of knowledge back from her years on the tour. Knowledge, and bowling balls. Lots of them.
In her first year on the tour, she got balls free from a sponsorship by Visionary Bowling Products, and would often send her excess balls home for her father to use.
After that first year, she decided to drop her sponsor in favor of a different ball manufacturer, Brunswick, but Holderman still got $300 balls for as low as $10 apiece.
She estimated she brought 30-40 bowling balls home from the tour.
In addition to a surfeit of bowling balls, Kim brought home a wealth of knowledge about which balls to use in which lane conditions and which situations.
Brothers Jason and John, who played baseball in high school as well as bowled, each got degrees in turf management and are now superintendents at golf courses in the Olympia area. But they enjoy bowling as well.
The family even plans on traveling together to Reno, Nev., for the National Mixed Championships in August.