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Area bowling leagues split

In addition to the hundreds of high school athletes who have been sidelined by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the crises as also brought a sudden halt to local bowling leagues.

On March 16, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued an order to indefinitely close gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters, and trampoline parks across the state due to concerns regarding the coronavirus. With all of the local bowling alleys shuttered, leagues have been left to contemplate if they want to finish what was left of their seasons when things begin to open back up.

Barb Stover, who serves as secretary for the Wednesday Ladies Afternoon League at Forest Lanes near Kensington and the Thursday Early Bird League at Tri-State Lanes in East Liverpool, said earlier this week that things are not looking good.

“The Thursday League at Tri-State Lanes had a few weeks left and it is canceled,” Stover said. “I also play in a Tuesday League at Tri-State Lanes that was leaning in that direction. The Wednesday League at Forest Lanes still had six weeks left, and knowing the ladies there, they are going to want to try and finish. But we’re just kind of stuck waiting to see what happens.”

Debbie Webb, who is the president of the Wednesday Night Quaker City Ladies League at Hunt Club Lanes in Salem, said her league members have accepted the inevitable.

“We were supposed to finish on April 15, and we’ve accepted that we’re going to be done for the season,” Webb said.

Stover said the cancellation of leagues would cause headaches as far as prize money and final standings are concerned.

“Some people pay ahead of time for the entire season,” Stover said. “I’m going to owe some people money if we can’t finish and we’ll have to rework the prize list. In one league, we had different teams in first place in the first and second halves. We would probably have to combine the money and declare co-champions.”

Webb said she polled the other members on how they should conclude things this year.

“We all decided to have a nice picnic together when this is all over,” Webb said. “We have prize money that needs to be distributed and people who paid ahead that need paid back. We all thought that would be a good way to end the season.”

Stover said it had pretty much been business as usual for the leagues before the shutdowns and everyone was taken aback by how swiftly everything unfolded.

“We had talked about it (the virus) here and there, but I don’t think anybody saw something like this coming,” Stover said. “I’ve been bowling since I was eight and I’ve never had anything like this happen.”

Webb said she started to have a bad feeling when other sports and events began to get canceled.

“I knew bowling alleys were going to be next,” Webb said.

With each passing week, Stover said it becomes more and more unlikely that there will be conclusion to any of the leagues.

“I bowl with some ladies who are also in golf leagues and those are coming up pretty soon,” Stover said. “If this goes on too much longer, I don’t see much of a way for us to finish.”

Webb said that while her league was competitive, she is missing the feeling of togetherness most as everyone continues to remain isolated.

“Our league is a very fun league,” Webb said. “We compete, but we have great camaraderie. That’s my favorite part.”

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