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BOWLING : Hitting the Lanes Becomes a Family Affair : Adult-junior leagues are proving popular at area bowling alleys. Participation by youngsters is rising.


C. Giberson, 13, used all the weight of his 110-pound body to propel a 15-pound bowling ball down the boards. Another strike. He and his father exchanged exuberant "wuggawuggas" and high fives.

Their team, Two Bowlers and Mom, is part of the Family Fun league, an adult-junior league that bowls every Sunday at Harley's Simi Bowl in Simi Valley.

The league includes kids as young as 6 years old who bowl alongside parents or another adult. Some are fairly new to the game and roll more gutter balls than zingers. Not T. C. (short for Thomas Charles or Tortilla Chip).

"He really has a talent for the game," said Ray Giberson, his father, who holds a 188 average. T. C.'s average is 182--not bad for a kid who has bowled four years. His best game is a 275.

T. C. has played in numerous tournaments, including three pro-amateur meets. He's chatted with top pro bowler Dick Weber. Ask him if he wants to be a pro bowler and he'll say without hesitation, "You betcha."

T. C.'s father taught him the basics and still gives him pointers during adult-junior league play.

"You're not thinking," the elder Giberson says when his son misses a spare. Watch the oil pattern on the boards, he advises.

But the Sunday afternoon league is not a serious affair. T. C. and his mother, Laurie Giberson, clown around. She bowled a 244 that day, the top score for the family. Both parents had been longtime bowlers but gave it up in the 1980s. They went back to it as T. C. became more involved with the sport.

"We live in bowling alleys," she said. "I don't know why we're making a house payment."

As for the family league, T. C.'s father says there isn't any pressure to win or excel.

"All you're doing is something with the family. How many sports are there that you can get involved in with your child?"

A few lanes over, Darwin Thompson was giving some advice to his daughter, Angela, 8, and son Anthony, 11. Both parents bowl in adult leagues, and it was the first time in the adult-junior league for the kids.

"As best you can, you teach them," he said.

Angela's first game netted her a 53, and Anthony broke 100 for the first time. The Simi Valley family joined the league, he said, because the kids were starting to get into bowling and the family wanted to do something together.

Harley's Simi Bowl has offered the adult-junior leagues for three years. Participation drops off some in the summer months, although those juniors who signed on with a summer league were given a free bowling ball.

"During winter, we have twice as many--22 teams that take up the whole house," said Doug Krasner, youth director at the bowling alley.

Nationwide, he said, junior bowling has been in a slump the last few years, partly because of the economy and partly because of low-cost sports programs offered by recreation departments.

"But this past year, it's up; it's definitely up."

In the year that Krasner has been at the Simi spot, the number of kids in junior leagues, including the adult-junior groups, has gone from 150 to 500, he said.

Bowling is gaining more credibility, he said, as prize money for professional bowling has gone up. Also, bowling has been allowed as a non-medal exhibition in the summer Olympics, he said.

It all begins with junior bowlers, he said. His junior program even includes bowling for kids as young as 3 years old who use bumpers to avoid the gutters. They win stickers each time they keep the ball on the wood. The balls come as light as six pounds.

In the adult-junior league, teams bowl for 1 1/2 to two hours. The teams of three or four bowlers all have handicaps. Winners get patches and trophies.

Leagues are forming now for play beginning in mid-September. The Family Ties league will meet Friday night, and the Family Fun league will continue to meet Sunday afternoon. The cost is $8 per week per bowler. For information, call 526-4212.


Other bowling outlets in Ventura County have adult-junior leagues. Here are some that are getting ready to form fall leagues:

Buena Lanes, 1788 S. Mesa Verde Ave., Ventura. Adult-junior leagues meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays and 6 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $5 per person per week. New leagues begin play Sept. 16. For sign-up information, call 656-0666.

Brunswick Valley Bowl, 5255 Cochran St., Simi Valley. Adult-junior leagues meet at 3:30 p.m. Fridays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $6 per person per week Fridays and $7 Sundays. New leagues begin play the week of Sept. 4. For information, call 584-2695.

Camarillo Bowl, 305 Arneill Road. Probably will have one adult-junior league in the fall on Sundays, beginning the second week of September. Time and cost still uncertain. For information, call 482-0747.

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