AS I WAS DOING some grocery shopping the other day, I ran into a fellow bowler and he commented about the decline in of the number of bowlers in his league at Scopano’s Lanes.
“We have dropped from 12 teams to 10,” he said. “It doesn’t look as though your (Pin Points) article is bringing young people into the sport.”
While his point is well taken, it will take more than a twice-a-month column that touts that achievements of local bowlers and informs the public of coming tournaments and events to get the kids off their couches, away from their technology and into bowling centers on a weekly basis. It will take a concerted effort by all of those involved in bowling throughout the four counties of the Genesee Region USBC – Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming.
It has to start with parents, especially current league bowlers, introducing their children to the game at a young age, and it must continue with dedicated coaches, center proprietors and managers working together to keep the kids’ interest through elementary and high school, and, possibly, into college (where an abundance of scholarship money is available).
I listen to so many excuses as to why kids aren’t bowling – “they’re into other sports; parents are too busy; it’s too expensive,” etc., etc., -- but I’m not buying them.
Sure, a lot of kids play other sports, but a lot of kids aren’t doing anything outside of school. Those who aren’t cut out for the physicality or athleticism of football or soccer may be the ones who will exhibit the hand-eye coordination and fundamental skills to flourish in bowling.
Bowling is not expensive when compared to other sports. Registration fees and commitments to play soccer or hockey, for example, can range into the hundreds of dollars. To become a certified USBC youth bowler, the registration fee may be around $20, and the weekly cost probably is between $3 and $10.
With that being said, I am happy to report that good things are happening around the Genesee Region when it comes to youth bowling.
In Oakfield, Carrie Monachino, who has a bowling daughter, has stepped up to the plate to help keep the kids’ program going at Scopano’s, where sign-ups are scheduled for tonight (6 to 8 p.m.), Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Similar registrations are taking place or already have happened at the GRUSBC’s other centers (see the list on this page).
Bennington Lanes owner Billie Jo Frost is making plans to get a youth bowling program off the ground, while Kevin Sass at Letchworth Pines in Portageville is developing a “Book & Bowl” program to introduce to Letchworth, Keshequa and Fillmore central schools, with the hope of starting a weekly junior league after the first of the year.
“Something like this helps to promote reading as well as participation in a healthy sport,” Sass said. “We think it’s a great combination.”
Circling back to the opening sentence of this column, now is a great time to spread the word that bowling is an activity that builds a young person’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, while promoting teamwork and sportsmanship.
"Pin Points" is just a part of the effort needed to attract boys and girls to a sport that, hopefully, they will like, stay with and eventually find their places in the adult leagues that are crying out for more bowlers.
‘BEAT THE CHAMP’ IS COMING TO BATAVIA
BEAT THE CHAMP has made a successful comeback to the Buffalo bowling scene, and now the weekly TV show that is part of the WBBZ-TV (MeTV) lineup is making its way to Batavia.
Mancuso Bowling Center has scheduled eight qualifying squads on Nov. 11, 18-20 to determine the 10 bowlers who will appear on three shows, and prior to that will run a mixed doubles handicap event (Nov. 5-6) with the top four teams qualifying for a fourth show.
MBC Manager Mike Sputore said that taping for the TV shows will take place on Nov. 30, starting at 8 a.m. The shows will be televised on Sundays at 4 p.m. (and repeated at 11 p.m.) during the month of December.
“We’re excited about it. This is a big thing for Batavia,” Sputore said.
Qualifying events at other bowling centers that paid the $6,000 needed to become a Beat The Champ host have attracted up to 170 competitors. Sputore said he expects a big turnout in Batavia, which is a short drive for both Buffalo and Rochester area bowlers. The qualifiers consist of three games, with no handicap. The entry fee is $30.
Beat The Champ is produced by the WNY Bowling Proprietors Association. For more information or to sign up, contact Sputore at 585-343-1319.
NO-TAP ON TAP AT MEDINA LANES THIS WEEKEND
IT'S EARLY in the bowling season and Medina Lanes is hosting the appropriately named sixth annual Early Season Handicap No-Tap Tournament this Saturday and Sunday.
Teams of three (men, women or mixed) will compete on Saturday with squads at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m., and on Sunday with squads at 1 and 3 p.m. First place, based on entries, is $750 and the entry fee is $75 per team.
On Oct. 16, scratch bowlers will get their turn on Medina’s synthetic lanes when the Fall Classic singles tournament unfolds. Qualifying times are 12:30 and 3 p.m. with a “Desperado” (last chance) squad and the match play finals to follow.
First place is expected to be $600 and the entry fee is $50.
OAK ORCHARD BOWL TO HOST PAWS EVENT
THE SECOND ANNUAL PAWS Triples No-Tap Tournament to benefit Albion’s People for Animal Welfare Society shelter is scheduled for Oct. 1 at Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion.
Squad times are 1, 3, 6 and 8 p.m., and the entry fee is $60 per team. Handicap will be based on 80 percent of the difference in the bowler's average and 220. Women with no average will use 140; men with no average will use 180. One out of every six teams will cash.
A portion of the entry fee, along with money raised through a Chinese auction and prize drawings, will go to the animal shelter.
To register, call 585-590-0804 or 585-589-6900.
COACHING CLINIC IS OCT. 1 AT MANCUSO’S
USA BOWLING Silver Level Coach Tom Fluker of Batavia will be leading a free youth coaching seminar to those interested in being able to teach the fundamentals of bowling to youth bowlers.
The seminar is set for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 at Mancuso Bowling Center. You can register for the course by calling Fluker at 585-284-2637 or by sending an email to [email protected].
TWO EVENTS IN BUFFALO AREA THIS MONTH
TONAWANDA Bowling Center, 574 Young St., Tonawanda, is hosting the TBC Classic scratch singles tournament this Sunday (Sept. 18), with three-game qualifying squads at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The top 16, based on 100 entries, will advance to the head-to-head finals, with the eventual champion earning $1,000.
Entry fee is $57. For more information, call 716-694-4120.
Transit Lanes on Transit Road in Williamsville is the site of the Jack N Jill Mixed Doubles Tournament on Sept. 24-25, a high-stakes event featuring a $4,000 top prize (based on 40 entries). The entry fee is $400 per team.
To enter, send an email to [email protected].
UPDATE, 8:30 A.M., 9/15/16 -- The first honor scores in the GRUSBC were reported to Pin Points in an email from Jackie Jurinich of Medina, secretary of the Wednesday Community League at Medina Lanes. In last night's action, Scott Allis of Medina rolled an 811 series -- adding to his long list of honor scores -- while Jeff Baes of Gasport registered a 300 game, upping his total of perfect games to at least six.
(Mike Pettinella’s Pin Points column appears every other Thursday on The Batavian, the region’s No. 1 source for online news. To advertise on this page, contact Mike at [email protected] or at 585-343-3736).