Bowling also dealing with a new reality

Olivia Miller, the Shawnee Indian freshman phenom, firmly announced this past weekend that the youth are back and ready to roll. Miller is hardly new to the game or these pages but she certainly fit into the planned narrative for this article. She tallied a 697 series on games of 245, 207 and 245 at 20th Century Lanes.

What is really interesting is how the upcoming season is going to look for Miller and the bevy of great bowlers that roll in the high school ranks in our area. Proprietors are being called to see when practices and matches can be held. But like everything else at this time there is the uncertainly of the COVID-19 pandemic, which could play havoc with bowling, too.

The OHSAA has its hands full with football and other fall sports, and clearly, in fact understandably, is going to be influenced by the impact of the virus. Their very preliminary stance on things at this point is that matches will be limited to two teams and social distancing must be enforced to include notable crowd limitations.

The Kickoff Classic, which is managed by the very capable Greg Coulles – a valued aide of the OHSAA — made some very noticeable protective decisions. The event is managed by the coaches association. Normally the event has 64 teams and this year it has been sliced to 32. I believe that means 16 boys and 16 girls squads.

Seemingly that will make the event more manageable and the chances are that some of the cream will still rise to the top. The shocker in this is the crowd control. Each team will be permitted to bring six bowlers and, get this folks, six fans per team. Ouch. How will teams such as Wapakoneta and St Marys survive along with other super traveling teams throughout Ohio.

When you look at the Kickoff and the initial stance of the OHSAA you have to wonder what kind of concessions are going to be asked for events such as the WBL tournament and, of course, the sectional, district and state OHSAA contests. I would say that there is a good chance that the 600 people crowds of the finale at Wayne Webb Bowl are a thing of the past. An interesting side note: I think the bowling championships were the last ones completed last season for the OHSAA.

One of the other groups at this time that is under the microscope is the junior high school league that had a successful debut last season. To say that the virus has made itself known in our school systems would be an understatement. At least one of the youths who rolled in the program last season has been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive. We certainly wish the young bowler well. But even before that diagnosis, league organizers have had concerns. Clearly they want the league to return.

The decision for that league should come down in the next week or so with one option being to push the start of the league back until the spring.

As for the high school season, who knows? We are seven weeks out and not sure what can be done. It is well known that the OHSAA wants it to be a winter sport but they also need it to be profitable.

Miller was a great voice for the sport on Saturday, sharing what many incoming freshmen feel as well as the returning veterans. “I hope we do get to bowl, it is something that I have been looking forward to for a very long time,”, she said.

Take heart, Olivia, there are many out there that will do all they can to assure the season takes place.

In our next get together we will continue to look at junior league play to include the bowler’s camp upcoming at Westgate Lanes. If you would like to have your son or daughter involved give Westgate a call at 419-227-7231.

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