My 2020-21 season preview

My 2020-21 bowling season is going to be more different, and a lot busier, than any of my previous ones. I’ll start with my own bowling, which has changed quite a bit in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic:

With many bowlers taking at least a year off, Wednesday night will have just the Brunswick Mixed league, and that will be a four-man league. I am on a team currently with Jane Waters, a holdover from Warren Young’s team last year, and Donna Dalia, who is new to the league after being away from bowling for many years. My team actually forfeited last week, with yours truly having to sit out in order to attend the Pepsi league’s meeting (more on that later). Some of the Westgate Mixed bowlers joined my league for this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Last night’s bowling, frame-by-frame

Last night was a solid set by last season’s standards. The first thing a regular reader of my personal posts might note is that this league is now down the high end of the house, as it has never been on Lanes 49-50 in the time I’ve been in it. A study of the BowlSK sheet should also produce the observation that the progress I’ve made on my single-pin spares held over, as I missed only one. There was a rough stretch of three open frames to end the second game, but, other than that, I made few mistakes.

Result: 180-156-183=519
Average (3 games): 173
Next week’s AVG+1 score: 525

The team ended up winning three points against Shawn’s team. Shawn thought last night’s pair was a tough one, so going over last year’s average on that pair was a good start, I thought.

All of my “Author’s links” stuff about my league bowling has been reset for the new season. Keep in mind, however, that I’m going to try to do as much as possible either at the lanes or ahead of time at home (often meaning copying formulas over on my spreadsheet log at home before entering scores in it on my phone at the lanes).

After a season of less involvement in other leagues, I’ll be busier than ever in them, even if not necessarily bowling in them. For starters, I was given the opportunity to run brackets for the Patriots league. I no longer have access to my trusted Perfect Brackets application (Windows Defender saw a driver file I needed for the hardware key as a threat.), but I was able to upgrade to the new T-Brac at a reduced price (I’d had the old version). The new version fixed the bug I had with the old version concerning the insertion of byes in brackets when I had “No byes” set. It also makes it easier for me to load bowler information from LeagueSecretary.com, so it’s been worth the investment already.

The final piece of my season’s puzzle fell into place last week at the Pepsi league’s meeting. Gerry LaTremouille is taking the season off from his leagues (but not from being the USBC association manager at Westgate). Seeing an opportunity, as Gerry was the Pepsi league’s secretary, I ran for, and was elected, league secretary, and Monday night was my first night. I had to purchase and download a copy of BLS, which I thought a bit of an adjustment from the Perfect Secretary I used to run the BowlingCommunity online league many years ago, but I’m quickly picking up how to do things in BLS (Don’t I always? 😎). Donna in the Westgate office will still be doing the league uploads to LeagueSecretary.com, but I will be posting them in the center, and I present here my first real standing sheet as a certified league officer:

I probably will cover the Pepsi league as I always have, but feel free to follow on LeagueSecretary.com.

Bowling subreddit & Discord added to sidebar links

I recently found Discord, an Internet chat service, through my involvement in a videogaming project, and I got to wondering if the bowlers were there. I searched Google, and, sure enough, they were, and, in the process, also found the bowlers on another social media service, the long-standing Reddit (on the Internet since 2005). The bowling Discord server was started by users of the bowling subreddit, so I decided to add these two resources together, although I’ve never been a “redditor.”

The links can both be found in the “Bowling Sites” list, but the Discord link acts a bit differently, as you’ll be taken to Discord’s login page, where you may sign up for a Discord account if you need to, then be dropped into the #welcome-rules channel on the server. Many Discord servers require you to be a member for a specified period (ten minutes, usually) before you can send messages in the server, so you may need to be patient. The Discord link on this website will load in a browser, but Discord has nice desktop and mobile apps, so if you have either or both and know how to add servers in those, feel free. I’m on Discord if I’m online usually, but don’t expect me to be active if I’m busy at Westgate, but feel free to “ping” me (mention me in a message) and I’ll try to get to you when I can. 🙂

Link to Tenpin Toolkit app added to sidebar

Always on the lookout for useful things to add to the sidebar links, I found, indirectly through Facebook, the Tenpin Toolkit app, developed by British coach Simon Kimber. It’s kind of a Swiss Army knife of bowling apps, as it has these features:

  • Angles & Targeting
  • Axis Tilt & Rotation
  • Ball Speed & RPM (Rev Rate)
  • Observation Trainer
  • Pattern Library
  • Score Calculator
  • Spare Names

Each of these tools is described in more detail on the app’s homepage (now linked in the sidebar, under “Bowling Software/Apps”), along with links to the app on the Apple Store and Google Play. The app does cost about US $10, but it could be the best $10 a bowler spends on technology.

Site theme and header changed

I’ve been involved in another web design project (not for bowling), and, seeing what was out there now, I felt it was time to update this site a little bit. Looking through the available (free) themes, the Nucleare one looked fresh enough, but functionally similar to the P2 theme I’ve had, so I went with that.

I also had the opportunity to use a larger header graphic, so I used that to try my hand at some simple graphic design in Paint 3D, resulting in what’s on the site now. I went with the Boxer Red & Black this time, and was able to match the colors up on the site with the header somewhat. The site also has a little bit of a background to it. The last thing everyone will note is that the menu bar now has a search button, eliminating the need for the sidebar search widget.

Let me know on Facebook what you think of the new look.

Update: Paint 3D wasn’t using the full dimension of the image I’m allowed by the theme, so I did a second header, porting a blank canvas in the optimum theme dimension from Paint, first.

I’d like to also note that, with my font face choices (which I was able to make with this theme), it now makes a good mobile site, although you’ll still need to view the site in desktop mode in mobile browsers to get the sidebar.

My day at 2020 Special Olympics qualifier

I’ve made it no secret since I connected with my half-sister Pam that I’m also connected to Special Olympics bowling through her daughter, Becky, and that I’ve been able to join them most of the times she’s bowled the Special Olympics qualifier since the event moved to Westgate Lanes after the closing of AMF Taunton Lanes.

This year, however, they decided to only bowl the Saturday morning league at North Bowl, which was featured in this month’s issue of Action, as shared on the Facebook page. I still wanted to support the qualifier with my presence at Westgate, as I try to do for everything here. However, NEBA was also at East Providence Lanes this weekend, and, with some of the Westgate bowlers taking part in that, I was conflicted. I decided that it would be Aaron Major who would indirectly make the decision by his performance last night, with the odds actually favoring me going to NEBA by Aaron missing the squad cut and bowling the 12:30 squad today.

Aaron did make the cut, however, so I was at Westgate basically first thing this morning. Becky’s Special Olympics team is named Heller’s Angels, and I knew one of the coaches, Becky Dean, from seeing her with my family. I did eventually introduce myself to the other coaches, Jim and Susan (I didn’t get last names). The summary of the day appears on the Heller’s Angels Facebook page as the post at the top of this article, but I’ll follow with some more detail in the next paragraphs.

Not being tied to family this time allowed me to network a bit with the other Special Olympics groups at the qualifier, and I particularly sought out the ones that practiced at centers in my association. I was hoping to find either websites or Facebook pages to connect to, and succeeded with a few of those, which I liked as the association page when I got home.

Also, wanting to play up some of Westgate’s history, I was able to tell the more fortunate groups, including Heller’s Angels, that their bowlers were on our most famous pair of lanes, 47 & 48, which, of course, we’ve affectionately dubbed “Hakim’s pair”. I also texted about that to Pam, who told me she thought that was very cool.

Finally, by pure chance, one of Ed Roberts’ daughters, Rachel, seeing that I was wearing the jersey I wore at his Brockton Athletic Hall of Fame induction (more on that in a future post), introduced herself to me as one of the day’s volunteers, and also introduced me to her daughter, Carlee, who was also volunteering. We talked a bit throughout the day from that point.

Again, it was a great day, as I said in the Facebook post I chose to open the article with. This post’s “administrivia” was linking both the Heller’s Angels Facebook page and the Massachusetts Special Olympics website in the Local/New England sidebar list. I ran a Mass. Special Olympics fundraiser on Facebook for my last birthday and would like to do so again, particularly if I can earmark it for Heller’s Angels.

Link to Action newsletter added to sidebar

Most of my readers already know about the Action e-newsletter, but I was on the fence between adding their Facebook page immediately and waiting until they had a website. However, a piece on the North Bowl youth program, which is in the Bristol-Plymouth association, that appears in this month’s issue has forced my hand, and I’ve added a link to their Facebook page in the Local/New England sidebar list. Jimmy Bessette, a member of the UBA’s Chyna Sindrome, is Action’s lead writer, but Vicki Prevost, the IBMA board member who recently retired from the New Bedford Standard-Times, is also a contributor. As a final note for this “administrivia”, the piece on the North Bowl kids also mentions the Heller’s Angels, who my big sister and niece are associated with.

Bowling Science YouTube channel added to sidebar

I rejoined one of my bowling groups on Facebook and saw a first post by Mikey Pinel, son of noted Radical ball designer Mo Pinel, of one of his YouTube videos on hand positions. It’s part of his new channel, Bowling Science, and, if anyone can explain the science of bowling, you’d figure it would be a member of the Pinel family, so I put a link to the channel in the video sidebar list. Enjoy! 🙂

RSS feed for Bowlage.com added to sidebar

Where I wish to cooperate with Bowlage.com in bringing the Northeast bowlers news from around the region, I have added an RSS feed from that website to this one, and set it to show the 15 most recent articles rather than the usual 10. It also appears above my national RSS feeds in the sidebar, so I hope the bowlers like the addition. 🙂

Link to Bowlage.com added to sidebar

I’m pleased to add Bowlage.com, a website for the Northeastern bowling community, to the Local/New England sidebar list. It’s a pretty comprehensive Northeastern bowling news site with user forums also available. Guest views are limited, but you’re encouraged to register as a user on it, which is free. Feel free to check out their Facebook page, too.

Chyna Sindrome takes 28 from Phoenix in UBA season opener

As announced in UBA Today, Chyna Sindrome, the former Westgate Warriors now based out of Walnut Hill Bowl, scored a 28-12 decision over Phoenix season tour opener at Brunswick Zone Lowell. The article mentions Jim Ferguson (714) and Jon Hester (731) as the team members with at least 700 in the match.

Lots of administrivia for this, as I’ve renamed the post category to reflect the changes to the franchise, and added UBA Today to the sidebar in the media category, as it appears to be their official news site.

Link to Keglerz added to sidebar (with full review)

I’ve come across a potential game-changer for side events management, the link to which has been added to the sidebar under the software/apps category.

Keglerz is an iOS app which is the first mobile app for bowling side events management. What has attracted me to the app is that it allows me to go paperless, as results are stored on a server and accessible through the SidePots client app, which has links to the Apple and Google Play (for Android) app stores from that menu item on the above website. Both versions of the SidePots app are free downloads. For those who still want results on paper, AirPrint-compatible printers are supported.

The first thing a user of the events manager app will notice when setting up an event is that a ZIP code is required. This is because the client apps are location-aware and will show all Keglerz events within a given radius of the user’s current location. This can be considered free advertising of the league or tournament.

Pretty much anything that can be run for a side event is available, including both brackets and eliminators, which I’ve only seen for both in an Excel app that was advertised a few years ago on the BowlingCommunity forums. There are also blind doubles, which works differently from my PC software in that series total is not supported (though I was told it could be added in a future version), but has an option to use the bowler’s best game of the first three, and, like T-Brac, can run a simple singles tournament, which can be used as an optional singles sweeper. All events can be run scratch and handicap.

For brackets, a common request is “put me in all of them,” and Keglerz may handle that request better than anything I’ve seen, as you can enter 99 brackets and then choose “Fix bracket entries” before the brackets are randomized, which will adjust it downward. Byes are currently not supported, though a “Bye” bowler can be entered as a workaround, entering a score of 1 for the first game.

Speaking of scores, they are entered with a pull-out entry screen where you first enter the score then tap the recipient’s game. While this is counterintuitive for a mobile app, the keypad is laid out like the keypad on a PC keyboard, so it may actually speed up entry. It’s also used when entering eliminator cut scores, and the app will sort the scores high to low, making it easy to determine the cut.

You should update the server after entering each game’s scores, and the app’s data footprint is surprisingly small, in the hundreds of kilobytes range for the average session with 50 bowlers. This is handy when using a device with a cellular data connection, as wifi service in bowling centers is often spotty and you don’t have to worry about your data plan.

Finally, for leagues, you’re able to set up the league all at once and the lane assignments can be automated by entering the league’s schedule for the week.

I may still need my laptop for some things, but will be using this app. Bowlers should download the SidePots app even if they’re not in my league in case I use it for a tournament.

Link to JR Raymond YouTube channel added

While watching another bowling video on YouTube, a video by former (?) touring pro JR Raymond came up in the queue, which was a lesson for beginners on how to hook the ball (he uses curve in the title), so I decided to look at the rest of the content and, liking what I saw, decided to add the link to the channel. There are tips, of course, but there are also EBI ball reviews, breakdowns of the game of other pros, and videos of a vlog nature. The channel also has several playlists so you can quickly get to what you need. Finally, there’s a link in the channel description where you can sign up for a virtual lesson.

The link to the channel appears in the video category.

Art of Bowling added to sidebar

I found a YouTube channel, Art of Bowling (not to be confused with Jason Belmonte and Diandra Asbaty’s International Art of Bowling), which belongs to New York City-based Silver coach Arthur O’Connor. The channel has lots of good tips, so I decided to place the sidebar link under the coaching category rather than the general one for videos.

BowlingDigital link, RSS feeds restored

Seeing that BowlingDigital.com was still in operation, I’ve restored everything (link and RSS feeds) I had before, and, as a bonus, added their industry news feed.

The surprise was seeing a Facebook page plug-in available, and, after some experimentation, a feed of The Tenth Board Facebook page is now in the sidebar, so that blog readers who aren’t on Facebook can see what I post there. Hope everyone enjoys it. 🙂

UPDATE: Only one of the RSS feeds, the “Top Stories” one, was visible, and that one appeared out-of-date, so I’ve removed the RSS feeds, but the link to BowlingDigital.com remains in the bowling media sidebar list; after all, no one covers international bowling like BowlingDigital.com.

Links to Kegel Training Center and Bowling ITRC added to sidebar

I’m surprised it took me this long to think of it.

You can find a bowling coach just about anywhere, but it’s generally accepted that the best coaching can be found in two places, the Kegel Training Center in Lake Wales, FL, and the Bowling International Training & Research Center (ITRC) on the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, TX. Lesson packages can be booked at both places, so I’ve included links to both in the Coaching sidebar category.

Links to Sacred Heart, Franklin Pierce bowling added to sidebar

Hoping to give the collegiate side of New England bowling a boost, I’ve added links to two colleges in the region with bowling programs, Sacred Heart and Franklin Pierce, to the sidebar. Without a dedicated college category, the links are in the New England category. Franklin Pierce has two links, as they have both men’s and women’s programs.

I’ve also removed the link to the RI Ladies Classic, as the tournament is now defunct. I really wish it got more support from the bowlers.

Also, SEMBA has outgrown its Boston-area roots and has changed its name to the Senior Masters Bowlers Association. Their link has been updated accordingly.

Link to BowlTV updated

With the USBC recently announcing that BowlTV has become a subscription service, I’ve updated the BowlTV sidebar link to point to the new service. Link can be found under “Bowling Streaming/Videos”.

Also, I’ve removed two links to BowlerExpress, as the new Brunswick Sync scoring system has been found to be incompatible with the older BowlerExpress standings site.

Link to Specto Bowling added to sidebar

I’m sure most of us who watch bowling on TV know that Kegel’s Specto Bowling has been used extensively on FOX’s coverage of the PBA Tour. I did find out yesterday that Specto is available as a mobile app. I’ve linked the Android app on the web Google Play, but iPhone users shouldn’t worry: The iOS version of the app is on iTunes.

BowlingDigital.com RSS feeds removed

As some of you know, the well-known bowling news site BowlingDigital.com ceases operations after 20 years today, so I’ve had to remove the RSS feeds from the site from the sidebar. It had been a go-to site for international bowling news, and so will be missed, and I wish founder Herb Bickel all the best. The site’s link will be removed shortly.

Sept. 23 Sunday Niters recap

I think I did mention that I’d be subbing on my Sunday Niters team instead of being a regular bowler, and my first opportunity to sub was last night, for Peter.

Last night’s bowling, frame-by-frame

Back-to-back good nights, but a little more consistent last night. My biggest problem seemed to be chopping the 6-10, but I also only missed one single pin (a 10, but I didn’t leave it often).

Result: 194-161-199=554
Average (3 games): 184
Next week’s AVG+1 score: 556

Composite average (12 games): 169

If our anchor (Eric Healy) got the second hit in the 10th second game, it would have been all eight, but we had to settle for six.

As administrivia, a limited number of Sunday Niters-related links are back in the “Author’s links” list, but standings likely won’t be there.

State association sidebar links updated

The Mass. State USBC Bowling Association has launched a new website, so the “Local/New England” sidebar list has been updated with the link to the new website, removing the others that reflected an unmerged association. The Brockton local association site in the list is still the old one, but we’re working on that, as well.