The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Over 700 youngsters to compete in conference tournament|
Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston:
Dwayne Hodges, from left, shows off his bowling skills as his sister, Tanya, and parents, Connie and Garrett Hodges, look on. The family owns Rocky Mount Bowling Center, where over 700 young bowlers will compete in the 49th annual Virginia State USBC Youth Championship beginning this weekend.
Friday, June 20, 2014
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
The Rocky Mount Bowling Center will welcome over 700 young bowlers and their families over the next three weekends as it co-hosts the 49th annual Virginia State USBC (United States Bowling Conference) Youth Championship.
Beginning Saturday, June 21, doubles, singles and team events for children ages four to 18 will take place at the center, and owners Garrett and Connie Hodges say they are ready for the action.
"We've turned out a lot of state champions at this bowling center," said Garrett Hodges.
This year is the first that the Rocky Mount center has hosted an event of this caliber.
"We hosted a men's state tournament back in 1993, but never a women's or a youth state tournament," said daughter Tanya Young, who also works at the center along with her brother, Dwayne Hodges. "We do host local and regional tournaments, but not state."
The family hopes the upcoming youth tournament will bring more business to the center, as well as to the neighboring businesses around Rocky Mount.
"Families who will be coming to the tournament will need places to eat and lodge," said Young. "This will be great for us and for the rest of the town."
"The Town of Rocky Mount is blessed to have the bowling center host these statewide events to bring people into our community to see what Rocky Mount has to offer," said Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins.
The bowling center has faced hardships over the past few years, thanks to a declining economy and the lessening popularity of the sport of bowling.
"There are so many other options available for families and kids," said Hodges. "With rec sports and new technology, families just aren't bowling like they used to."
The Rocky Mount Bowling Center was built in 1986 and was originally owned by the Ingram family. In 1993, the Hodges' bought 50 percent of the business, and three years later, they bought the other half. Today, the business employs about 10 people.
The facility contains 20,000-square-feet and started out with 16 lanes. Soon after, eight more lanes were added for a total of 24 lanes.
"The lanes are all wood," said Young, "which makes it more competitive. Weather, traffic on the floors and humidity in the air all affect the conditions of the lanes."
"If you can learn to bowl on these wood lanes, you can definitely bowl on the synthetic ones offered by many other bowling centers," Hodges added.
Wood lanes may make the sport more competitive, but it also calls for more costly upkeep.
"It costs us about $16,000 to maintain the lanes," Young said. "And we've just spent over $3,000 buying new tables and chairs that will accommodate the upcoming crowd."
The bowling center has been up for sale for over a year now, according to Young, but the Hodges family said they do not want to see the center close its doors.
"The center in Vinton just closed in April, and we don't want to see that happen to the Rocky Mount center," said Young.
The family also owns Hodgesview Dairy Farm in Rocky Mount and are not longer able to continue operating both businesses.
"Bowling is the only sport I know of that does not discriminate," said Young. "Anyone can bowl, no matter what disability they may have."
The Rocky Mount center offers unlimited bowling for one price, and that price includes shoe rental. It also boasts computerized scoring, an arcade room, a party room, pool tables, food service and a dining area.
It has served as a venue for parties, sports banquets, church lock-ins and many local fundraising events.
"We also have our Rock-n-Bowl on Saturday nights during the summer when we turn the lights down and use our disco ball," said Young. "During the winter, we have Rock-n-Bowl on Friday and Saturday nights."
"We also have a unique feature in our kids' bumper pads," Hodges added. "The pads pop up along both sides of the lane to prevent young children from bowling gutter balls."
"We have definitely seen a lot of support from the school system," said Young. "Every elementary school P.E. class in Franklin County participates in bowling, and the kids get a free game pass to use at a later date."
Though the center has seen a lot of community support over the years, continued support will be needed in order to keep the bowling center's doors open.
"It's important to have quality recreation facilities like bowling centers, cinemas, ball fields and performance venues in a community," said Hankins. "They enhance the quality and enjoyability of life, provide positive places for recreation and give people a place to gather and become part of a group."
The youth tournament will also be hosted, in part, by Lee Hi Lanes in Salem.