An institution within Del Norte County’s bowling community is in danger of dissolution.
The Tsunami Juniors Bowling League, a weekly bowling league for children up to age 19, has suffered from dwindling participation numbers. The Tsunami Lanes bowling alley in Crescent City may decline to sponsor the league if it continues to attract few youth bowlers.
“The highest (participation) was probably eight to 10 teams with three people each,” said Janet Lynch, the Tsunami Juniors league coordinator.
“Last year, we had seven kids. Total.”
Junior league bowlers converge on Tsunami Lanes at 11 a.m. every Saturday during the season, which runs from September to April. Bowlers pay $5.75 per week toward the use of Tsunami Lanes and 75 cents per week toward miscellany such as trophies or tournaments, according to Lynch.
“I know with money being tight, people don’t want to spend money on their kids to bowl on Saturdays,” Lynch said. “It’s a very big commitment.”
Fewer and fewer children — and their parents — are willing to make that commitment for what Lynch believes are a variety of reasons. Cost and the time slot reserved for league activity are two of them. Exposure is another — Lynch is not sure that posted announcements and other recruitment efforts at Del Norte County schools have been effective.
How kids view bowling as an activity may be another deterrent. Tsunami Lanes supervisor Pitrea Martinson noted that most bowlers ages 19 and younger come to the alley during weekend evenings for cosmic bowling, under the blacklights.
“It’s a dating scene on Saturday nights,” Martinson said.
“If I could get half of the kids (who bowl on Saturday nights) to join the league ... they’re too busy doing the drama and hanging out to join the league.”
Anecdotally, Martinson says that “more kids have been coming in the last four years since I’ve been here,” but even that may not truly represent the demand for bowling among the 19-and-under crowd.
“Some can’t commit to stay on Saturday night because they can’t cover the $5 cover charge,” Martinson said.
Del Norte County does not lack for bowling talent. Tsunami Juniors bowlers Scott Sousa, Matt Mattz, Trevor Dalbez and Robert Krivanek participated in the Tsunami Lanes Bowling League Championships on May 8, competing against winning teams from the alley’s adult bowling leagues. The juniors finished second to Oil League champion Newton’s Clean Sweep, with 51 pins separating the two squads.
Though the 2012–13 season has already ended, the Tsunami Juniors are currently raising funds to participate in the California Youth Championships, aUnited States Bowling Congress-sanctioned state-level tournament held at Double Decker Lanes in Rohnert Park. The Tsunami Juniors will have the opportunity to earn scholarship dollars in addition to bowling trophies.
Come September, however, the future of the league remains in doubt.
“As it is, we have one graduating and one going to adult league,” Lynch said. “We’re probably going to lose three kids this year. We could only have four or five kids starting in September if we don’t get recruitment.”
The Tsunami Juniors will suffer another loss by this time next year, as Lynch intends to abdicate her position as coordinator.
“I told them that this next year would be my last year because my kids are grown,” she said. “I hope that someone else will (take my place).”
For more information on the Tsunami Juniors, visit Tsunami Lanes at 760 L St., Crescent City.