Sport League before Sport Leagues.

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
I had a little taste of sport bowling before there was a proper name for sport bowling. This was before lane conditions had become a science and before houses tried to attract bowlers by increasing the scores. The shot was just the shot. Every house had its characteristics, its oiling routine and most people just accepted it. Most focused on beating the guy next to them and that was enough. In the fall of 1995 I started bowling in a Friday night junior league in addition to my Saturday morning league. The house was Melville Bowl. We had a great junior program there with people running the programs that cared about the kids and the sport (Thanks Linda & Silvia!). I didn't know much but I knew the lanes were much harder than Saturday. Friday was one of the two "strip days" at Melville so the backends ripped. I also learned later that in order to protect the wood surface the lanes were oiled gutter to gutter on Friday night. At this point I was averaging about 200 in my other leagues but Friday night was a whole different story. I was averaging around 170 on Friday night and I remember the conditions being BRUTAL! Luckily there was a men's league going on next to us on the same pattern. I had a few friends that "went money" early that were bowling in the league and I watched how they attacked the pattern and we always would stay after to practice and talk strategy. I learned a bunch in that league and by that next summer my average was up to 215 (on the house shot). Things were simpler back then. People knew other houses may have been easier but they showed pride in their house. People knew that when they stepped out to another center they weren't just representing the town they lived in they were representing the house they bowled at. That what was fun about bowling, going to different houses and testing out different shots. Trying to master another shot. Trying to beat a guy in his own house at his own game Even though I bowled league all over New York, competed all over the world and currently train at the ITRC. The place I put it all my hours and days and months and years of practice was Melville Bowl. Melville Bowl will always be my home house and the Friday night "Sport" League will always remind me of the point that I started to take my game to new heights. Read More

Comments (6)

  1. Ben Schoolcraft
    May 6th, 2014

    Fantastic point. Everyone has that one center, or even one pair where they just feel at home. Mine is lanes 9-10 at a little place called Jay’s Lanes in mukwonago Wisconsin. I feel more at home there than pretty much anywhere else on the planet.

  2. Daniel B Killion (The Dan)
    May 6th, 2014

    Conduct a YOUTH tournament in four states (SSJBA) and all events are on WTBA patterns (including a couple of modified ones (harder, by Kegel scales)which we named SSJBA shots as memorials to youth (Charlie and Corey)who departed long before their age advanced.
    The most common complaint is getting their HOME centers to provide them practice shots prior to competitions. Kegel has even allowed us to offer them a parts only update of their machines to accommodate the shots. Personally I have discovered that the Lane Maintenance Personnel are the resistors preventing shot availability. Love your piece but fear it never becomes a reality for ENOUGH youth to keep the Sport growing…. the lack of industry commitment at the Youth level is SCARY for the future of our SPORT. Bowl On Brother

  3. Michael Heaton
    May 6th, 2014

    Do you think that the sport leagues should be the norm? I kind of feel like if people want higher scores then maybe they should pay more to play in leagues that give them an easier shot. Otherwise, you play in a regular, sport league.

  4. Brian H
    May 7th, 2014

    Ha, I remember that well. I didn’t bowl often at Melville, as I primarily bowled at Patchogue Bowl and Larkfield Lanes in Northport around the same time. But I do remember a couple of friends telling me that shot on Friday nights in Melville was brutal if you didn’t know how to play it. And I do remember bowling there for a tournament or two.

    I hadn’t thought about that house in ages (I haven’t lived on Long Island in 14 years).

  5. Bruce Hall
    May 7th, 2014

    Mike,
    Great article. I grew up in Bloomfield Ct. Laquer – I still remember the smell. Plastic off the two board. Had to have your hand on the side to save energy and get reaction off the dry. I used a Columbia TIteline from the 1971 Winston Salem Open – still remember the logo.

    Paramus had silicon oil and flew. Bowlerama in Newington, Ct. was always an incredible grind out. If you bowled the regional at Lakewood lanes in Waterbury, you had to bowl A squad or you were out of luck.

    Yes, every house had its own personality. Great to remember them and the things we would do to adapt.

  6. Bill Snyder
    May 7th, 2014

    Great article, Mike. Anyone that has seen you at a clinic or an event like your recent scholarship tournament can see you care about junior bowlers. We need more emphasis placed on learning to bowl on sport shots and less emphasis on looking good via high scores on house shots. My daughter bowls in a sport league Sarurdays and was shocked at the difference between your tournament pattern and that leagues “sport shot”. The kids need to see more of the real thing. Keep up the good work,Mike. You’re a worthy role model.

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