As some may be aware from having kept up with events in Rhode Island over the past 6-7 years there is a ground swell which is starting to get the smallest state a lot of attention. Through the efforts of a few in a grass roots movement, many competitive bowlers have started to come out of the collegiate ranks from the area and they are the product of Junior programs within Rhode Island.
Well the story does not end there Rich Goetz, Bryan Rhodes and Chuck Burr formed the catalyst for a grass roots movement to revitalize and bring back quality competitive adult tournaments. Over the years Rhode Island has witnessed an erosion of participation in tournaments offered at the state level. Some bowlers sight disapproval in the quality of the events and sought other opportunities to compete and some stopped competing altogether.
This grass roots movement has a vision where bowlers will be involved in planning and managing the events. To that end the organizers mentioned above brought together players who they felt would constitute a balanced cross section of bowlers from across the state. There are many members of the committee so, I won’t waste ink naming them here but, their contribution is no less notable than those organizing the tournament committee.
This group fully understood the task ahead of them and knew they had to restore credibility and quality in tournaments. In January the committee rolled out the first of what they hope will be many quality events. The Rhode Island Singles tournament hosted by Walnut Hill Bowl in Woonsocket was an over the top success. The committee recognized that one of the reasons some bowlers do not participate is because they feel they cannot compete with some of the higher averaged players in the area. So, the committee’s answer was to create two divisions. A 200 and under division and one for players who average over 200. Both division crowned their own champions and had their own individual cash spots. They also ran a bracket system which was very popular among the participants. 51 bowlers competed in the 200 and under division which is proof that the division system worked well. Both divisions were highly competitive as a result.
The under 200 division cashers results:
The over 200 division was equally successful with 97 players competing in the event.
The over 200 division cashers results:
divisions bowled four game blocks where both scratch and handicap totals were tallied. Participation at this event is the best Rhode Island has seen in years. In fact, it was noted that participation on the first day of competition outpaced the total number of players for the previous year’s tournament.
I can say first hand I was impressed with the efficiency with which the tournament was run and the professionalism displayed by all the volunteers. James Bessette was running scores for most of the blocks. Greg Gent, Bryan Rhodes, Kelsey Marks, and Crystal Hagemoser handled the brackets and registration. Mark Blanchette verified averages. Mark Laramee was in attendance in an official capacity representing the RI USBC.
The RI Tournament Committee is not resting on the laurels of this early success. There are two additional tournaments in the planning stages. Next up will be the RI Association Tournament to be hosted by Lang’s Bowlarama on March 8-9 and 15-16. Next, the committee will reintroduce the Rhode Island Masters Tournament to be contested on June 14-15 and hosted by Lang’s Bowlarama.
It’s awesome to see such a team of players who are passionate about quality competitive bowling in our area. It is in one sense yet another sign that Rhode Island is alive and well when it comes to bowling. Thanks to the organizers and committee members for stepping up and taking a stand!
Fran Varin is a USBC Silver certified coach who coaches throughout Rhode Island. He is also a coach for the Rhode Island Flyers and Bryant University. He can be reached at email@example.com