McPETE’S CO-OWNER Eric Petersen has run the bowling alley with partner Bob McDowall for the past 16 years.

Bowling: A great way to stay active indoors

Staff Writer
Jennifer Edwards
Bowling is a popular pastime in the winter months when it is hard to get outside to exercise. 
It is also a good sport for students looking for scholarship money to help pay their way through college, says McPete’s co-owner Eric Petersen.
“I have had two students in my high school leagues in the past five years who have been able to pay their way, thanks to bowling,” said Petersen, who has been in the business 16 years. “And with the price of college tuition these days, that’s a big deal.”
Last month, Lisa Kimmer, mother of champion teen bowler Daniel Kimmer, presented information to the Big Lake School Board, suggesting bowling should become an officially recognized high school sport.
The board agreed to take the matter up through Community Education, as they did last year with trap shooting. While details have yet to be released, it is anticipated bowling will be officially sanctioned by the district next year and students will be recognized and be able to letter in the sport.
Bowling burns an estimated 220 calories per hour. It provides an excellent muscle workout, picking up the heavy balls and moving around the lanes. It can be played by people of all ages at all levels of fitness.
Spring bowling leagues are forming now with adult three person teams bowling Monday evenings, two person adult-youth leagues on Tuesday and three person youth or adult teams on Thursdays.
League play is the backbone of the bowling industry but interest in league bowling has declined a little over the years.
“We are down a little, about two percent,” said Petersen, who has 17 adult leagues and a junior league Saturday mornings. “It’s not bad here but towards the Cities the numbers are way, way down.”
“I think it’s the same with golf,” said Petersen. “People are not committing their time long-term like they used to. They don’t want to be tied down.
McPete’s has invested in batting cages, mini golf, darts, pool, volleyball and bean bag toss  to help bring customers in. Darts, pool,  volleyball and bean bags have their own leagues forming now.
“Open bowling is inconsistent,” Petersen said. “The big push in bowling is to draw the kids into the sport.”
To that end, McPete’s is offering a safe summer club for all students in kindergarten through high school. Purchase a game card for $20 and receive two games of bowling per day, including shoe rental, Monday through Friday from June 9 to Aug. 29.
In addition, those who show their pass every Tuesday receive $1 in free batting cage tokens. They can also purchase an 18-hole round of mini-golf for $2.  
Every Thursday there is a hamburger basket lunch special for $2. Adult passes are also available for $20, good for 20 games.
“We want students to have a safe and drug free summer,” Petersen said. “They can come and have fun with us.”
McPete’s is also hosting a Down Memory Lane 9-pin no-tap bowling tournament April 5 at 11 a.m. to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Foundation. Sign-up fee is $20, of which $10 goes to the prize fund, $5 pays for the lanes and $5 goes to benefit Alzheimer’s research.
In the US, an estimated 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the fifth leading cause of death among people aged 65 and over.
The fee includes four games with a handicap of 90% of 220.  The prize fund totals $500, or half of all the entry fees. 
The payout will be one in five based on a minimum of 25 bowlers. This is subject to change. In addition there will be prize drawings and a silent auction during the tournament.
In addition, seniors can enjoy bowling every Wednesday at 1 p.m. for $1.50 per game. If there is enough interest, Petersen says he will form a senior league.
“We wanted to keep it affordable for them,” he said. “It gives them something to do and a chance to get together and get a little exercise, especially in the winter when there is not that much going on.”


Kathleen R. Huber

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