We’re back

Al Smith - Guest Columnist

Do not look now but the high school bowlers have returned to the local bowling scene and rumors and hopes have it that it will be another great season in our area.

We will certainly giving it all the ink that it is worthy of in the weeks to come but a couple of different thoughts hit me early as we prepare for the greatness that will be this season.

The first would be that there would be wisdom in more youth being involved in the junior bowling programs in our community. It has been said before and I will suggest it one more time – if you are a parent or a school and you want your child or your student-athlete to be more successful in this sport please get them involved in a junior program. There is a reason that the successful teams in our area are successful – junior bowling programs.

What is interesting is that you do not have to wait yet another calendar year. The Ohio High School Athletic Association has the seemingly unbending rule that youth cannot bowl in junior leagues and roll on high school teams – more on that in a minute or two.

What will soon be happening is the migration of youth from the junior bowling programs in our area into high school action. This movement will create openings this season in the junior leagues. I suggest that you contact the bowling establishments in your immediate area and see it that movement creates any league space for your son, your daughter or your student athletes in lets say middle school or high school even if they will not be competing for their school. It will create some interest and help the development of your child or your student athlete.

The child development piece for me is even more important than the opportunity to compete on the high school and ultimately the collegiate level. Bowling is a sport that helps individuals learn some important life lessons.

While it is easy to see week in and week out the friendships that are made on the lanes there is a more critical concept that can be developed for youth through this sport – you learn how to fail with grace and come back from it. As importantly you learn how to not be critical of others when they fail as it is a shared experience. I cannot think of another sport or activity that drives it home any more clearly. In a world where so many feel the need to be the best every minute of every day, it can be a blessing to learn a little humility.

As for the OHSAA, please understand that I have greater respect for the organization than it appears from time to time. I do believe that it has done more for the sport than many would imagine. It is driven by some sensational people in Columbus and throughout our area such as Jay Selgo and the balance of the state such as Greg Coulles. They do want what is right for the youth that they serve.

That said they cannot have their season without the lanes and especially the proprietors. Each year for a period of ten to fourteen weeks, proprietors and local bowling associations lose bowlers. There has to be a way that this can be put to an end.

Earlier Sunday I was at Southgate Lanes in Bluffton watching some great bowlers compete, to include some high school competitors. Youth from our area competed on Saturday as well. If this were in season, they would not have been there. Interestingly enough none of those tournament sessions would have been in direct conflict with the high school play.

It seems to me that the OHSAA could just use the same guidelines that they use for multi-sport youth. The student-athlete would have to choose which team was primary. This should not be that hard and oh by the way OHSAA you need that kind of relationship with the lane proprietors. – Okay rant over for this season.

I am not going to go deep with any picks at this time but Celina and St. Marys should again be strong and I will never sleep on Wapak or Shawnee and even Lima Central Riepenhoff err I mean Lima Central Catholic.

I had a brief chat with Rob Mitchell and a slightly longer one with Janice Giese and the Indians are taking an interesting approach to the season. The Western Buckeye League slate of the team is set and they are bowling against some other local schools but they have determined that a good course of action is to roll in different tournaments this season, to include different baker events. It is there rationale that this will get them prepared for OHSAA tournament play. It will be interesting to see how this works out for them.

I have to say when I saw the name change of Childers Media Group that I wondered if Matt was the Woof or the Boom. Boom would have been the most appropriate answer as learning that CMG would no longer exist was lack a cannon volley over my head.

While the name of Matt Childers is not often seen in the bowling world he deserves our praise for at least three bowling moments. One would be the annual Christmas Party that was held at Westgate Lanes where bowling over those years was at least attempted by one and all.

The sport related moments were his partnerships with Phil Austin and Vince Koza in two noteworthy ventures. One would be the two broadcasts that he approved of the Racer Classic and the second would be the approval of a weekly bowling segment on the Koza in the morning show which is sponsored by 20th Century Lanes, along with different tailgate shows at bowling establishments in the area.

Matt I thank you for the added coverage in our area and permitting me to be a part of it.

As a member of the Lima and Allen County community I am grateful that our young leaders will now have you as a mentor as you serve Allen Lima Leadership. Those you serve will be better for the time spent with you.

See you at the lanes….


Al Smith

Guest Columnist

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