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School Board approves high school bowling as varsity sport

By Staff | May 26, 2011

The Lee County School Board has voted to make high school bowling a varsity letter sport.
The program will start in August when school goes back in session.
Bill Hanson, owner of All Star Lanes in North Fort Myers, was one of those campaigning to get this accomplished.
He is the current president of the Southwest Florida Bowling Proprietors Group.
“We met with the principals of the schools in February and met with them again in April, and the Proprietors Group basically agreed to fund the sport,” he said.
At a recent meeting, the School Board approved the initiative.
“Anytime you can expand offerings to students – both academically or athletically – is a positive step,” said Lee Schools spokesperson Joe Donzelli. “This will provide an opportunity for students that they didn’t have previously, and we’re hopeful that many will take advantage of the chance to participate.”
Six bowling centers will participate, including North Fort Myers All Star Lanes, Bowland Cape Coral and Friendship Lanes in Cape Coral, and other affiliates in the area.
“The catalyst for this was Mike Cannington,” Hanson said. “He is the director of Operations for Bowland Centers of Southwest Florida.”
It was a personal cause of for Hanson.
“High school bowling is a great thing,” he said. “I was a freshman in high school in upstate New York when funding for high school bowling got cut.”
Now he and others from his group hope to get the ball rolling again at local schools.
“We’re trying to get our fund raising committee together to raise funds for the sport,” he said.

– Kid Bowl Free this summer national and local effort –

Children throughout the area can bowl for free this summer, as part of a national effort by bowling centers, schools and other community organizations to launch a fun summer activity program.
“We know how the economic times have affected a lot of people, and they have affected us too, and it is an opportunity to have parents have their kids bowl two free games every day until Aug. 31, an opportunity to give them something to do to keep kids active this summer,” said Hanson.
“Kids bowl free and parents can register their kids on line at kidsbowlfree.com,” said Sally Gartner, Program director for All Star Lanes of North Fort Myers. “Then they can pick the center they would like to go to.”
The criteria is children 15 and under, with parents or guardians having to register the kids online and they need an e-mail address.
Gartner is excited about the program.
“This is to promote a time for families to get together and get scholarships for the kids, something fun for them to do,” she said.
The free bowling has already started with the school board nod on that program as well as the varsity designation for the future.
“We will have coaches here to have kids learn how to bowl like a pro, and it is just getting bowling out there as a sport. It gets kids involved, helps with self esteem and confidence,” she said.
“Nobody rides the bench in bowling,” Hanson added.
To learn more and register for free bowling go to kidsbowlfree.com or call 995-0413.
The free bowling is for children 15 and under, and besides that, there is no other age or any economic criteria.
“Also, if anyone wants free lessons, we also give free lessons,” Gartner said.
All Star Lanes is at 2818 N Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. For information, call 995-0413. In Cape Coral, you can reach Friendship Lanes, at 1899 Del Prado Blvd. S. at 574-3611 and Bowland Cape Coral, at 250 Santa Barbara Blvd., at 772-1661.