Here in Detroit for Junior Gold. My son Andrew is bowling in the U15 (equal to or under age 15) division.
The qualifying event runs like many separate tournaments. U20, U15, and the girls divisions all qualify in separate bowling centers at different times. If you don’t go to the other centers you won’t even know there is another tournament going on.
Andrew bowls 5 games a day across three days in different bowling centers with short (Stockholm), medium (Atlanta), and long (Tokyo) sport patterns. All the U15 boys hit that center in the same day across two squads – 315 total entries. U20 is running SIX squads. Huge – and that’s not even counting the girls! I am so jealous – I dropped my amateur standing at 16 to bowl for money (NEBA, actually) because there really wasn’t anything like this. Kids today have it so good…OMG I am an old fogie now!
The talent level is generally high, but there are also a LOT of kids who desperately need coaching and more experience on tougher conditions. There are a lot of “make up moves” at release – stepping out of the shot, crazy head movements, snappy shoulders, wacky wrists, and just plain total crank – that might work on walls but kill you on sport shots. Special thanks to Sharon Evans who runs sport shot tournaments in the eastern Mass. area and got Auburn Lanes to put out sport shots each Friday leading up to the event.
I used to feel that sport shots were too extreme and too quick a fix for house conditions, but I feel differently now. The kids that CAN bowl are hitting these conditions. Yes, the balls help, but they DO NOT make up for poor form. It is a real wake up call to the sad state of junior coaching in our sport. Any accomplished bowler who is not involved with their local junior program needs to volunteer for this coming season.
They have an interesting cross – the kids on the left lane move several pairs to the right after each game and the kids on the right lane move several pairs to the left after each game. This is clever and you get to see different kids but makes for total chaos in the settee as parents and bowlers try to navigate between games.
We started in Sterling Lanes where the air conditioning recently broke – if you consider six years ago “recently.” They had one swamp cooler in the middle that did little, even less when one person would stand in front of it to try to keep cool. A woman passed out and fell off the bleachers – the EMTs came to care for her. When the patrons are literally falling out of the stands from the heat, it might be time to fix the A/C – and find a different center to run your tournament in.
It was great seeing west coast friends. Since we moved east we have bowling friends on both coasts:
All the ball reps are here – you can really see how the ball marketing has gone grass roots since the tour is no longer much of a showcase for equipment. Jason Couch was repping for Hammer and I asked him where he was bowling next – he replied that he had retired. It is a crying shame that we don’t get to watch his extreme talent anymore. If there were $100K on top for the next tour event, my guess is he’d be out of retirement. How many guys do you know that would be on tour if the money were right?
Funniest moment so far: the Hammer sign falls at Sunnybrook Lanes:
Last thought: there are more bowling centers in ten square miles in Detroit than in all of Eastern Mass…