It snowed…

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

The Pioneer Classic was well laid out months in advance. Teams were invited to the classic – a term that we will use until an even greater name can be given to it.

And then it snowed … the equivalent of throwing a monkey wrench into a finely-tuned machine.

It also gave rise to this column.

Over the years if I ever leaned one way or the other on this sport I have always leaned in the direction of the proprietors. The reasons are quite simple; we do not have a game/sport without them and in virtually every case in our area they are local and more importantly family owned businesses.

We are blessed, very blessed by that fact! They are managed by families and thus your families will always be served.

Meanwhile back not only to - but inside the Pioneer Classic … did I say – “It snowed.”

Over the last three years I have been in the employ of 20th Century Lanes and I have absolutely enjoyed it! The opportunity to interact with even more individuals who love the game has been a phenomenal blessing in my life.

It has also given me the first hand opportunity to grow in my awareness of the business side of things of the world of bowling. My appreciation for the proprietors in this sport has magnified if that is humanly possible.

And then on the “eve eve” of the Pioneer Classic it snowed.

The eyes of the proprietors of 20th Century as well as the tournament management team of Temple Christian School went immediately to the weather radar and the prayers began that the Saturday storm that brought life in Lima to a virtual standstill would not have an impact upon the event for Temple Christian School.

One of the things that I have learned in my role as a tournament director or site manager is to surround myself with good people. Today was not any different – in fact it may be more capably said to make sure that you do not get in the way of those good if not great people.

As I shared my eyes have been opened over the last three years as the love, the passion, the stress, the energy that goes into the management of the bowling lanes. If only it was as easy as turning on the lights and the lanes – lol.

Tournament play to include the upcoming WBL and District 1 and 2 sectionals magnifies things. It is the same for league days or nights. The proprietors in our area want excellence for those that will be competing in those moments.

I recently asked one of the owners, Mike Riepenhoff, if he ever dreams about the lanes at 20th as I do. He smiled and chuckled as he gave his answer – walking to the back to assure that everything would be in top condition for the lanes going into Monday morning. He would be back into the building on Sunday night to assure pizzas were prepped for 19 teams and that the lane machine was loaded with Abbey Road, the pattern for the event.

20th is not alone in this passion for the bowlers. Too often the proprietor is the first to arrive and the last to leave. It is not that they do not trust staff, it is that they love what they do and want to take care of those that they serve. It is not uncommon that as they arrive sometimes as much as an hour before the lanes open that there will be cars waiting for them in the parking lot to open the door. So much for that measure of morning solitude.

I have asked different proprietors why and they often will share … ‘love of the game’ … or …. ‘it’s in the blood’ … or even ‘it is what I do.”

It is so much more, I cannot say it enough – they want things to be great for those that they serve. As stressed and frustrated as they get I cannot imagine what they would do if not in the game.

This past week I went on a busman’s holiday of sorts to a different set of lanes and simply sit back and watched the proprietor bounce from the kitchen to the counter to the tables interacting with the individuals who were there. It is clear that there is a great relationship between him and the adults he was serving.

Seventy-two hours later he was helping coach a high school team as well as offering his support to the tournament manager and the proprietors of 20th Century. Thank you Brian Vanmeter you are appreciated.

As I write this I am sitting back with Chris Sanford, her day is not done … there is a league going on and vendor orders to be prepared. In addition she is concerned that all the youth make home from 20th in safe order.

It snowed you know.

Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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