Recently I attended the high school state bowling district tournament, which was held at May City Lanes in Cedar Rapids. It was facinating, and a bit different at the same time. Lets take a walk around the center, with some observations.
When I pulled up to center, there was an immediate problem. No parking anywhere. May City has an ample lot, but it was jammed full. So was the bank lot across the street. I ended up parking in the Altorpher Heavy Equipment parking lot, and walking a block or so into the building.
Inside the facility was packed. Jammed full. People were everywhere. In all of my years of bowling leagues at May City, I have never seen it so crowed. A person literally couldn’t walk from one end of the building to the other (31 lanes). At each lane was a different school, with their brightly colored shirts, and their own cheering sections. We will get to that in a bit.
One item, caught my attention right away. People were sitting on top of the bar and were watching the competition. The bar itself was closed. I have never been into a bowling alley that didn’t sell alcohol. But this was a high school event, which didn’t allow (and rightfully so) alcohol on the premises at the time the competion. The beer signs weren’t even turned on.
As far as noise level goes, it was very loud in the building. Not just the sound of the pins getting hit, but the cheering. Those cheering sections that I mentioned in an earlier paragraph, were extremely vocal with their encouragement. They had signs, and would yell anytime there was a strike or a spare. The atmosphere was really an incredible thing to see. Never would have expected it at a high school bowling tourney.
Thing is, the fans were not all parents. This was a surprising thing to see. There were groups of students, and other spectators just ‘hanging out’, wanting to watch some great bowling. There were ticket ‘tables’ set up (five dollar admission) but no one was working at them. I am not sure anyone paid to get in.
It was interesting to watch some of the spectators. There weren’t a lot of seats, so most people stood up the entire (3 hours) time. It seemed like there were a few notebooks in the crowd, and people seemed to be taking notes. (Hey if someone saw me there, I was also writing things down. But then again, that’s I am supposed to. I was covering the event). Anyway, while observing some of these note takers, I noticed there were writing down strategies, and passing them to the coaches. Kind of like ‘press box coaches’ would do at a football game. Thing is, isn’t the only real strategy in bowling called knocking down all the pins?
It turned out to be a fun, enlightening day. High School bowling is a big deal to a lot of people. It is the fastest growing youth sport in Iowa and across the nation. Colleges are now offering bowling scholarships. Another thing that it does, is allow participation. Many of the kids on the bowling team are not active in any other extra-curricular activies, for whatever reason. Bowling gives these youngsters a chance to ‘wear the school colors’ in competition, and thats a good thing. We can talk about the benefits of sports and other school activies for hours, and now with bowling, others get an opportunity to enjoy those same advantages.
Is it easy? No. Due to the numbers, many schools now are forced to hold try outs, with the less talented being cut. Not one coach I have ever spoken with, enjoys that new part of game. But the reality of numbers says it has to be done. And the ones that do make the team, are very good and bring with them some high averages. The Linn Mar team, which won the boys 2-A crown, had all six of their team members average over 214 per game for the tournament. No it’s not easy at all.
As mentioned, in boys 2-A, Linn Mar was the winner, in girls 2-A, it was the Jefferson J-Hawks taking the crown. North Linn won both the boys and girls title in 1-A, also at May City. The state tournament is this week in Des Moines.