It’s time for a change for Tiffin keglers, as well as this sports scribe

The sign seemed rather innocuous when I first saw it. Heritage Lanes would be closed for the month of June. That would not be common, but perhaps there was a logical explanation.

Then the month of June passed and the building remained unopened. Soon the summer was over and my worst fears were realized. Heritage Lanes was not going to open for the 2018-19 bowling season. There would be no bowling leagues starting up this fall. Bowlers, many of whom had been hurling the rock for decades, would have to find another house.

Though I have not bowled for a couple of years now, it was still disappointing to see what has to be considered the end of an era. The owners are retiring and no one can blame them for wanting to do that. The fact remains however, that the historic 24-lane facility is closed and bowlers will have to make other arrangements if they want to continue participating in the sport.

Some have gone to the K of C Lanes. The unique four-lane house, cozily located in the basement, can only absorb some of Tiffin’s bowlers. One league, I understand, has moved to Seneca Lanes in Fostoria, while many bowlers have retired their equipment, perhaps permanently.

Maybe the closure will be short lived. Perhaps a buyer will surface and reopen the facility. For now though, it’s time for a change, for many bowlers as well as yours truly.

Normally at this time of the year I would have already been writing bowling columns. Given the circumstances, I couldn’t envision writing a bowling column for the next 30-plus weeks with no local leagues to cover. I conveyed my concerns to the A-T thinking that once golf season ended my writing career would likely come to an end.

I was asked to come out to the Advertiser-Tribune offices for a meeting. There a new offer was forthcoming. Instead of writing a weekly bowling or golf column, would I consider writing what would be called a Sunday Sports Column. I could write about any sport at any level, high school, college or professional. It was an offer that was too good to refuse. So now when you open the A-T on Sunday you will get a story. It may be about NASCAR racing or pickle ball, the World Series or swimming. You may read about the NFL official who was recently fired for poor performance or a local little leaguer who hit for the cycle.

Sports have been a major part of my life as long as I can remember. The opportunity to expand my writing was very appealing. I’m not sure if I totally understand the A-T’s faith in me, but I certainly do appreciate the chance to continue writing.

Once I accepted the offer to write about other sports, ideas for stories came flooding into my head. I’ll give you an example.

You have all heard the phrase that there are two sides to every coin. I recall reading about a pee wee football championship game. I can’t remember where it was played, but I do know it was played in a driving rainstorm. The field soon became a quagmire as both teams struggled to even move the ball, let alone score.

At the end of the fourth quarter the score remained 0-0. League officials decided to play an overtime period, after all this was for the league championship. That too ended with no scoring and everybody, from players to fans alike, were wet and tired.

So the decision was made to flip a coin with one team designated as “heads” and the other “tails.” A coin flip would determine the winner. Or would it? The coin was tossed into the air and allowed to hit the ground. The only problem was the ground was mud and sure enough, the coin landed on its edge! Apparently there are MORE than two sides to every coin.

With that the game was called, co-champs were declared and everyone went home happy, albeit a little soggy.

So the die is cast. There will be a sports column every Sunday for the foreseeable future. I have some ideas, but I welcome your input. If there is a sport you would like to see get more coverage, let me know. I have my favorite sports and there are those that I pay scant attention to. However, I would be willing to do some research and write about your favorite game. Just let me know.

I’d like to thank the A-T for this opportunity. I’d also like to thank you, my faithful readers, for making this possible. There are a lot of sports, on a lot of levels, whose stories beg to be told. I will try to find them.

Who knows, there may very well be some bowling stories yet to come!

Al Stephenson is a sports columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.

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