by Amy Doeun
When Randy Larson, of Ogilvie, tells people that he plays three sports a year, he often gets a rather puzzled look and a response of something like, “I know about football and baseball, but what is the other one?”
Larson says: “Bowling. It is a sport. It takes accuracy, strategy and strength.”
Larson has been bowling in the Chucker’s junior league in Rush City, held at Chucker’s Bowl & Lounge, for about eight years.
“My mom was on a bowling league here, and she introduced me to the league,” Larson said.
Abbey Sandstrom, of Rush City, has been in the league for about four years. She said a friend, Alice Schweigert, got her involved with the league.
“It is a good way to meet new friends,” she said.
The league runs from September through April with a state tournament in May. Sandstrom is now assisting coach Mary Adams.
“We have a practice lane every week,” Sandstrom said. “At any point if you need a little extra help, we can pull you aside and work on the basics, go over approach and fundamentals of bowling.”
Adams said the goal of coaching is “to teach juniors the basic fundamentals of bowling, for sport and entertainment.”
“Basic fundamentals promote safety as well as a base to be built on moving to the next level of bowling or just enjoying the entertainment of the game,” he continued. “My job as a junior coach starts with teaching the basic rules and regulations used within the sport. Although each bowler will develop their own skill pattern, learning early about equipment and basic movements enhances the sport to the bowler, making for a more enjoyable experience.”
Larson continues to advocate for bowling as a sport.
“Not many people recognize it,” he said. “That makes it unique.”
Ten or 11 players participate every year. Sandstrom said that she loves the camaraderie,.
“You can goof around and still be serious,” she said.
The cost to participate is $8 per week or $64 per session (there are two sessions a year). Some tournaments have an additional fee.
Adams has been volunteering as a bowling coach for over 20 years.
“Coaching junior leagues for me started while working at a bowling center in Maplewood over 20 years ago,” she said. “Coaches were needed; my then young son was in the league, so I started coaching. After relocating to the Rush City area, I was pleased to find a bowling center starting a junior league program where I could enroll my youngest child. Of course, I offered my assistance with coaching. My children have since passed through the junior leagues, but I still find pleasure in coaching the juniors. It is still amazing for me to watch when a young bowler grasps the fundamentals of the sport and the confidence begins to build. Where they go from there has been enjoyable to watch as well.”