WBL takes big step forward

First Posted: 2/21/2015

It’s been cold this week. As this article was written, it was 6 degrees below zero. Clearly we could all use something to warm the cockles of our hearts!

This article should do it for many. It certainly has for me!

This past weekend four schools (St. Marys, Ottawa-Glandorf, Van Wert and Defiance) from the Western Buckeye League began their second seasons, rolling at Minster’s Community Lanes in the OHSAA Division II bowling sectional.

Next week, defending OHSAA champion Wapakoneta, Celina and Shawnee will take to the lanes in Port Clinton’s Star Lanes at the Harbor to begin pursuit of the Division I title. Lima Senior will join them in that chase.

Among the missing from the equation are Bath, Elida and Kenton from the WBL. When or if they will ever come in from the cold and enter the fray with their fellow schools from the conference has been a question that conference athletic directors and their commissioner, Bob Askins, have been discussing in recent meetings.

During the last couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak with Askins as well as Dick Heath from Shawnee, Brad Rex from Wapakoneta and Keith Horner, the superintendent from Wapakoneta. Each seems to be ardent in their support of the bowling program in their schools and the conference.

Askins shared in our most recent conversation that the core of a committee has been formed to determine how a league champion will be crowned starting next season. Rex, Jim Hollman of St Marys and Jerry Buti of Defiance are committee members, and they will be adding existing coaches of bowling programs of the member schools. Their report will be due back to the member athletic directors in April.

They will be discussing if the champion will be crowned as a result of in-league competition, conference tournament (as they have done in the past with golf) or a combination of the two.

Please note readers it is now a matter of how, not if. This time next season, there will be the prestige of a WBL bowling champion.

The plot thickens!

When the conference champions are crowned, they will earn points for the prestigious WBL All Sports Championship. If only seven schools have teams, those points will be awarded 7-6-5-4-3-2-1. If a school does not have a team, then it will not earn points. Hopefully that will serve as some motivation for the schools that do not have a team. It can also be a great bargaining chip for a certain parent or two who plan on approaching one of the schools who has an AD with an attentive ear and a governing body that seems to have a closed one.

Rex, Hollman and Buti can also be a big assist if you have an AD who is not sure of the best way to present the concept to the governing bodies of their schools. Rex and Hollman have seen state titles come to their schools, and Buti clearly wanted to be a member of this bowling think tank. I would imagine that they can make it work.

If not, Horner is a great ace-in-the-hole. He has an incredible “why not” attitude and has become a fan of his team. He was in the house at 20th Century Lanes as the Wapakoneta boys took the conference title this past weekend, continuing their mission of a repeat at the state. He left during the ladies’ match but was praiseworthy of their success as well.

He has advised me that he would not think of not having bowling at his school. He has mentioned the increase in morale as well as more youth being involved in school programs.

Heath would be a great contact as well. In our conversation, he stated his pleasure with his coaches, Rob Mitchell and Chris Giese, and the successes of their program this season.

Heath echoed the sentiments of Horner as he spoke of the opportunities that it gave for more students to have the opportunity to be a part of a school-based activity.

He also shared a concept with me that I have been hearing from more and more parents and school personnel. He discussed how his family uses bowling parties as an opportunity to celebrate family moments.

Many parents of youth from all the schools, from LCC and Temple Christian to the MAC schools, have shared stories of how it has helped bring families closer together. The crowds at the high school matches are a testimony to that.

This movement in the WBL comes at a good time, as the WOHSBC is considering some type of realignment. Everyone involved is committed to working through things in a way that is beneficial to each conference.

The growth of the WBL will of course lead to less league and USBC play for even more youth next season. Take the time to check back here next week and read the letter that I would love to see every AD, school decision-maker, proprietor, parent and student athlete sign to the OHSAA and the USBC.

LBA Tourneys

There are two LBA tournaments of note on the agenda that I want to make quick message of today.

The first is the Lima USBC Doubles tournament that will be rolled at Westgate Lanes at 5 p.m. March 7.

The other would be the Jessica Sanford Memorial Singles that is set for Southgate Lanes from 3 to 7 p.m. March 21. The finals for that event will be March 22.

I really want to thank Jr. Johnson for drawing my attention to my gaffe of last week. I value this tournament a great deal, as it is the closest event that the youth have to a city singles. I cannot believe that after all these years, I left Jessica’s name out. I have already made my apologies to the Sanford family, and if anybody else was offended I apologize to you at this time.

See you at the lanes.

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