MORRISVILLE, Pa. — Scotty Miller is keeping up a family tradition by learning the basics of bowling on Saturday mornings during the youth league at Delmor Lanes in Morrisville.
“It is pretty eventful,” the 13-year-old said. “We learn something different every week.”
Scotty, an eighth-grader at Neil A. Armstrong Middle School in Bristol Township, started getting bowling instruction at Delmore Lanes at the beginning of the school year and has been working on building up his game average each week. It now stands at roughly 107, he said.
Most recently, Scotty has been working with volunteer coaches to learn how to keep his balance as he takes a few steps and releases the bowling ball toward the pins at the end of the alley. “I have to keep my mark,” he said.
Scotty’s brother, Patrick Bussman, previously learned similar tips on how to bowl during the instructional league off Delmorr Avenue in Morrisville. And when their mom, Kimmy Miller, was growing up, she learned how to bowl there, too. “I didn’t want to let the tradition stop,” Scotty said.
Several generations of area families have had their kids develop their bowling skills in the Delmor youth program over the past 63 years, said Regina Wallace, who serves as the league’s secretary and one of its four volunteer coaches. Currently, there are 17 kids, ages 5 to 17, involved in the program and new bowlers are always welcome to join, she said.
“We teach the fun of it and not the competition,” said Wallace, who is certified by the United States Bowling Congress, as are her fellow coaches Dave Borsavage, Tom Haigh and Doug Bruce. The coaches combine a mix of instruction, activities and games to help the kids learn how to play.
The top participation sport in the United States, bowling involves tossing a slick round ball made of plastic, urethane or resin down a polished alley toward 10 pins. Players get two chances in each round, commonly known as a frame, to knock down the 10 pins. If a player knocks down all 10 pins at once, it is a strike. It’s a spare if he or she knocks down all 10 pins over the course of two tries in one frame. There are 10 frames in a game, and each individual bowler can earn up to 300 points. A bowling match can involve two players in a one-on-one contest or several players split up into two or more teams.
Bowling alleys throughout the region — including Levittown Lanes in Falls, AMF Bristol Pike Lanes in Bristol Township, Penndel Bowling Center in Penndel, Pike Lanes in Upper Southampton, Thunderbird Bowling Center in Warminster, Earl-Bowl Lanes in Richland Township and Bowlero in Lower Southampton, formerly known as Brunswick Zone — offer youth leagues. Membership ranges from 25 to 100 per league, and newcomers are always welcome, according to program officials.
“The kids are the future,” said Cassie Williams, the youth league coordinator at Bowlero. “To keep bowling going you have to get kids started young.”
Most of the leagues begin after Labor Day each year and run through the following spring. Just about all of them offer instruction and lessons from volunteer coaches on Saturday mornings.
The Delmor coaches encourage their young bowlers to focus on bettering their own average, rather than beating other players, Wallace said.
“By beating their own average, their team will have a better chance to succeed,” she added.
Bowler Jeremy Hay has taken the coaches’ advice to heart. “You play against yourself to try to improve every week,” said Jeremy, 13, who has been in the league for the past five years and has a bowling average of about 120.
Jeremy, an eighth-grader at Pennsbury’s William Penn Middle School, initially joined the league as something to do while he was waiting for baseball season to start. Now he has grown to love it, said his mom, Jill Hay. “It has helped him with his confidence and that has affected him in every sport he plays,” she said.
Maisy Phillips, a Morrisville seventh-grader, feels a similar sense of accomplishment, in this, her first year with the league.
“The coaches are teaching me to set up to throw the ball, how many steps to take and where to aim,” said the 13-year-old, who has an average score of about 90. “They taught me to aim for the second arrow on the right (in the alley). If I do, the ball will move to the middle of the lane as it is rolling and knock down the pins. It works most of the time.”
Learning the basics of bowling in the Delmor league helped propel Adam Vinglas, a junior at Council Rock High School North, to play on his school team. “It is a friendly atmosphere and a great experience without the harsh competition,” the 17-year-old said. “That is what really got me into bowling.”
And when there’s a competition, such as a tournament involving kids from youth leagues across the area, the kids have more fun. Adam, whose average is in the 160s, used his skills to earn about $500 in scholarship money last year during a Pepsi-sponsored tournament.
Information from: Bucks County Courier Times, http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com