Portable Bowling Lanes Allow Students To Learn Lifelong Skill

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If you're old enough, you may remember a time when bowling pins were set manually, usually by a child they called a pinsetter.

To keep the game moving along, he had to hustle -- handling two lanes at a time. He'd set the pins in a rack, pull it up, then jump up to a perch just above the lane and wait for the ball to strike the pins beneath his feet.

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FES fourth-grader Samantha Padilla practices bowling at the PE dome, while Steve Salatti, Rim Country Lanes program coordinator, provides instruction. The bowling alley donated six portable lanes for use in Payson's elementary schools.

It was a hot, sweaty, noisy business, and for his efforts he was usually paid a dime a game.

"My dad was a pinsetter," Rim Country Lanes program coordinator Steve Salatti said. "You just can't do that anymore."

Unless you're a student attending one of Payson's three elementary schools.

Thanks to "Get Ahead with Bowlers Ed," a program sponsored by Rim Country Lanes, Payson elementary students can actually learn the finer points of bowling on portable lanes right in their own schools.

Rim Country Lanes purchased six of the portable lanes to rotate among the schools.

Since the portable lanes don't come with automatic pinsetters, students perform the chore themselves.

The program has other educational benefits as well, including encouraging the use of math skills by teaching the students another lost bowling art -- how to keep score manually.

"I used to keep score for a league," Salatti said. "That's how I earned some extra money. Now you don't have to keep score anymore because it's all automatic."

Other benefits of the program Salatti cited included teaching children to work as an individual; working as a team; vocabulary growth; and an introduction to a lifetime activity.

"It's a perfect life-time activity for people to learn," Frontier Elementary School PE director Rich Ormand said. "The Bowler's Ed program is really great. They have a really easy to follow little curriculum."

Students receive classroom training before they ever pick up a ball. Besides how to keep score, they learn the finer points of the game, including bowling terminology, the four-step approach, releasing the ball, and how to use the target arrows and locator dots on each lane.

The portable lanes are plastic, as are the sand-weighted pins. Students roll a 4.5-pound rubber bowling ball.

The lanes cost $130 apiece, and FES used a Carol M. White Physical Education Grant the school was awarded to purchase an additional six to go with those purchased by Rim Country Lanes.

"As they bowl, there is one student who is the bowler, one who is the pinsetter, and one who is the ball return," FES PE assistant Trish Koch said. "This is just a neat event for everybody involved."

After honing their skills on the portable lanes, students take a field trip to Rim Country Lanes where they can try their newfound skills in the real world of bowling.

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