This the first year for the Anne Arundel Youth Travel League, and itlooks like the league is going to be showcase for the youngsters in the county.
The league has 10 teams of four members each, who bowlat four centers -- Bowl America Glen Burnie, Bowl America Odenton, Crofton Bowling Centre and Greenway Bowl Odenton.
Currently, first place in the handicap division belongs to the Greenway Bowl Odenton team, known as the Greenway K & R: Jenn Robinson,Rachel Kiessling, Dan Kiessling and Joey Robinson. The scratch division leaders are the Raiders: Veronica Moton, Tony Tully, Bob Burkindine and Michael Hardee.
Hardee, 16, holds the high average for the league at 207. Michael is in the 11th grade at Meade High School and likes to use Hammer bowling balls. At Bowl America Glen Burnie, he threw his career high set of 713; at Greenway Bowl Odenton, he threw 11strikes for a 278.
His father, Alex, has a 190-plus average, and his mother, Charlene, carries a 160. Michael's been bowling since he was 3 and credits Hugh Siar's coaching for much of his success.
"Hugh started coaching me, and it's made a big difference in my game," Michael said. "I was averaging 171 before and now I'm over 200."
When asked about the difficulty of bowling in different centers each week, Michael answered, "I feel it helps my game because I concentratemore. I know that in the long run bowling in different centers will help a lot.
"The hardest part of bowling is not to let a bad attitude hurt your game. I like what Bowling Digest magazine quoted Peter Weber as saying, 'It's OK to be mad for a few seconds, but by the time you're back to your spot you should have it out of your mind.' "
Robinson, 17, holds the high single game for the Anne Arundel Youth Travel League with a strong 242. Jenn is part of a bowling family.
The Robinsons (Jenn, mother Clara, father Raymond and brother Joseph, 13) live in Edgewater, and they all bowl. Clara has a 160 average, Raymond carries 190-plus and Joey has a 160 average.
Jenn has a career-high series of 631 and is averaging 169. She started bowling when she was 5 and says, "Bowling is part of my life. I love it."
Jenn is throwing a 15 1/2-pound Cobra bowling ball, and in the spring expects to be throwing a
softball from third base for South River High School, where she's in the 12th grade.
Walter James has been bowling since he was 4, and it looks like he finally got the hang of it this year.
James, owner and operator of Walter James Furniture Refinishing and Touch-up, lives in Linthicum and bowls at Fair Lanes Southwest on Monday nights and in the Tuesday ADT Doubles and Friday Men's Major at Fair Lanes Westview.
On Nov. 12, at Westview, James threw games of 172, 200 and 189 for a fantastic 561 series. Even more impressive is his 148 average this year at Westview.
"Last year I averaged 126 (at Southwest)," he said. "And at Southwest I'm only hitting 124 this season. There's a big difference in the scoring between the two centers.
"Yet Southwest is spending a lot of money putting in billiard tables and a sports bar. That's OK, but I'd ratherthat they do something about the scoring conditions. There shouldn'tbe that much difference between two centers."
Norm Hill threw a first game of 257, a second game of 228 and topped off the night with a perfect 300 for an outstanding 785 series, at Bowl America Odenton in the Monday Night Mixed League on Nov. 11.
Even for someonethat carries a 206 as Hill does, that's quality bowling.
While we're on the subject of quality, how would you rate the food at your bowling center?
At Bowl America Odenton the food is a bit different. For starters, the woman who manages the snack bar has been there longer than a lot of bowlers have been around.
Judy Korom will celebrate her 25th year at Bowl America Odenton this spring.
And Joey Garafano, the new manager, has added his fine Italian touch. You'll be able to order homemade spaghetti and meatballs as well as homemade lasagna at the center.
The entire Italian menu is made from scratch.
Sounds like you should stop in for dinner even if you don't bowl.
The Baltimore Bowlers Association, a member of the National Duckpin Bowling Congress, will sponsor the Chesapeake Handicap Mixed Doubles Tournament Dec. 7 and 8 at Riviera Lanes, Pasadena.
First prize will be $1,000, second $500 and third $250.