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The Right Approach...Views on the world of bowling.

Volume 1, Issue 39


By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez

      What do you really expect for $7? seems to be the attitude of the junior program director where my son bowls. The parents have heard the story now, several times, that he only gets scheduled to work a couple of hours each day, and that he's only 18 himself, so what do we really expect from him? Now of course, $7 won't buy us a sit-down meal these days, or a seat at a movie, or much of anything else, but when the rest of the parents got to thinking, we realized we do expect a lot. After all, our children joined a league the center offered on a Thursday afternoon, and we agreed to pay the price of $7 per junior bowler. We expected three games of bowling in a sanctioned league and a whole lot more. In essence here's a manifesto for a better junior program:

What Do We Expect


      Get away from the front desk. You should spend time on the lanes with the kids every week, if just to say hello. You should be the one congratulating the back-up bowler who has managed to learn a regular release, or encouraging the child who's reluctant, yet ready, to leave the bumpers behind.

      Sanction the junior leagues so they can get all the rewards and be eligible for all the prizes and awards they can get. When it comes time to enforce the rules, do it.

      Call each child by name. It is not unreasonable to be expected to know all the kids' names by the fifth month of league, especially when there are only a dozen bowlers. And it's not a bad idea to remember which kids belong to which parents when they come to pay league fees.

      Recognize the little things. Announcing the name of the 8 year old who turkeys and the birthday girl on lane 3 takes a few seconds but you made someone's day.

      Celebrate little victories. Stickers and high-fives every week are better than a trophy at the end of a long season. Every kid should leave the lanes each week with one success.

      Remember your coaches. If they're promised free games or other perks, make sure they get them each week. Tell them thank you for a hard day's work. They are volunteering their bowling experience, they're not there to baby-sit.

      Get feedback from the parents. If they have suggestions, listen. If you say you'll get back to them, then live up to your word.

      Announce all the tournaments well ahead of time. Parents need time to plan, book, and pay for these trips. If the parents ask, come up with help in the form of fundraisers.

      Bowl with the kids on occasion. Kids don't read if they're just preached to; experts say read WITH your kids. The same goes for junior bowlers. You haven't really lived until you've picked up a corner pin with the bumpers up, anyway.

      Give the kids lanes to call "home." Schedule the league lanes, and then leave them alone. Most leagues have a set stretch of lanes they bowl on week in, week out, and so should the junior bowlers. I don't think many adult leagues want to be moved all over to accommodate a birthday party, or a new unsanctioned league.

      The irony here is that not a thing I've listed here costs much, if anything at all, except maybe expending a little respect to a center's youngest bowlers. Too often, a general manager forgets that young bowlers make loyal customers. And if they don't get the fire in their belly to continue, there are other sports that will start calling them. So maybe when I get that What do you expect for $7 attitude again, I'll tell the youth director, all we want is a little respect.

Gotta Split,

Angel


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