By Michelle Miller
---- — There seems to be a growing interest in bowling in Cooperstown.
Maureen Davidson, first-year coach of the Cooperstown Central School girls and boys varsity and boys junior varsity teams, said she has double the amount of players she had last year. The team has 24 players – including 15 who are new to the sport, she said.
Mike DeSimone,an employee at the Clark Sports Center bowling alley who helps with the leagues, said he has also seen a growing interest in the sport. He said a new bowling league called the Little Rollers began earlier this month. The league is open to boys and girls in grades K-2.
There are 16 children who participate Wednesdays from 4 to 4:45 p.m., according to DeSimone.
“We got this going because we want to teach them and start them off at a young age,” he said.
The free program is free and will run through Dec.19. Another session will be held Jan. 9 through Feb. 13. Registration will be open from Dec. 26 to Jan. 9. For more information, call Barry Gray at 547-2800 ext. 108.
The Little Rollers is not the youngest bowling league the Clark Center offers. There is also preschool bowling that begins in September and runs through May (tentative ending date). The program is open to youth ages 3, 4 and 5 every Tuesday, 10:30 to 11 a.m. No registration is necessary and the free bowling includes show rentals. DeSimone said moms and dads can come with the kids and bowl for free as well.
There is also an elementary and middle school bowling league open to boys and girls in grades 3-8, according to DeSimone. These bowlers meet from 3 to 5 p.m. every Friday from November to April.
The Clark Sports Center Bowling Department provides programs for bowlers of all experience and skill levels. Bowling pretty much takes place every day of the week at the eight-lane facility. DeSimone said all the adult leagues are full, but substitutes are always being sought. Adult leagues include Monday night men’s, Tuesday night women’s, Wednesday night men’s. Thursday night women’s, Thursday night mixed and a summer no-tap mixed.
Senior citizens age 55 and older have a league of their own.
“It’s a good time to come out and have fun, exercise, listen to great oldies music and socialize with friends,” DeSimone said.
The program is open to seniors every Tuesday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and Wednesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m., through May 22, (tentative ending date).
“Seniors bowl for as much as they can for just $1,” DeSimone said.
For more information on bowling leagues, visit http://www.clarksportscenter.com/bowling/.
The Clark Sports Center is where the Cooperstown teams host their home matches. Davidson said Barry Gray, the athletic director at the gym, goes out of his way to help and welcome the students from CCS. The Center loans equipment such as balls, shoes and bags for away games as well, she said.
Davidson, who substitute teaches at CCS, said there are only four schools in the league that have a junior varsity team, and CCS is lucky to have such a program. There are only seven or eight school that have girls teams, she added.
Interest in bowling on the Cooperstown school team may be able to be, at least in part, accredited to the offerings at the Clark Sports Center.
Senior captain of the varsity boys team Chris Harloff said he began bowling in a league at the gym when he was in third grade and has loved it ever since.
Harloff said he has been bowling for the team for five years.
“I enjoy it and think it is a lot of fun,” he said.
The captain said he has seen his scores increase over the years and is always working on perfecting technique.
“Everyone has their own technique and no two people bowl the same. That can make it hard to teach,” Harloff said.
DeSimone, who is also an assistant coach for the school team, said the goal is to spark an interest for the young at the Clark Center and then hope they continue to like the sport and play on the team.
Davidson said she found bowling attracted children who are on the fringe athletically and socially. However, this year, she said many students who were playing on other teams decided to join bowling instead.
“I really do not know why, but we are very happy to have them,” she said.
First-time team member Robert Iversen said being on the team has given him another avenue to meet new people and develop friendships.
“I liked to bowl before now, I just didn’t get much chance,” he said.
The 10th grader said he thought about joining the team last year, but never did.
“It’s been a lot of fun so far,” he said.
The ultimate goal, according to Davidson and DeSimone, is to have the three teams compete in sectionals.