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Bowling nights bridge the generations.

Byline: Kevin Anthony For The Register-Guard

There are not many sports where one teammate will turn to another and say, `Get it, grandma!'

Rarer still is the fact that Mackenzee Clarke, an 8-year-old bundle of energy, was addressing her great-grandmother, 77-year-old Dorothy Stough, and would soon fist-bump her elder for picking up a spare.

That kind of multi-generational bi-play is closer to the norm than the exception on Monday nights in the summer at Timber Bowl. The lanes in downtown Springfield have hosted an adult-junior bowling league as far back as anyone now playing can remember. Grandparents teaming up with their children and grandchildren are a regular sight on foursomes consisting of two adults and two junior bowlers.

But the Betty Buggers are the rare team that spans four generations: Stough, her daughter Betty Kelly, and great-grandchildren Mackenzee and 9-year-old Joel. Tara Clarke, the kids' mother and Kelly's daughter, grew up bowling and often works the snack bar on Monday nights.

`I really enjoy it, spending time with my grandkids and everybody,' Stough said.

Kelly is something akin to the bowling matriarch of the family, picking up the sport nearly three decades ago and getting caught up in it almost immediately.

`Just the friendly people; it was a lot of fun,' she said, noting that she has never been into sports.

`This is the only one I can do,' she said. `I can't do most (sports).'

`Me either,' added Stough, who has been bowling almost as long as her daughter and first started when Kelly's team needed a fourth. She still bowls three times a week, including twice on Fridays, and is on a team with her sisters, Ruth Piper and Vi Elliott.

`I have one sister who quit because of carpal tunnel,' Stough said. `But the three of us bowl in the granny league.

`It's something to do. It's better than sitting at home.'

Both Stough and Kelly say they cherish the time they spend with the kids, as does Clarke.

`I love it, and (the kids) love spending time with their grandmas,' she said. `That's what I love about it. I wouldn't trade it for the world.'

Mackenzee and Joel are fairly new to bowling, having started two years ago. They each received a new ball and bag for Christmas.

`I'm starting to get the hang of it,' Mackenzee said, brightening as her name and score (54) are announced over the loudspeaker for bowling over her average (41).

Joel said he has two reasons to look forward to Monday nights.

`I get to spend time with my grandmas,' he said, `and after I'm done my mom always gives me a dollar to play video games.'

Wins and losses are not the primary concern for most of the adult-junior teams, league secretary Candy Goble said.

`There are some competitive people, but it's not tooth-and-nail,' she said.

`For instance, my husband - his team likes to win. But having fun is what I'm there for.'

Candy and James Goble have bowled in the league for 14 years, first with their sons Nathan and Joshua and now with kids from the Saturday junior league. Candy said the adult-junior league is a great way to introduce bowling to kids.

`It's easier on them,' she said. `It's not a long league, just 12 weeks.'

Also, it provides a positive atmosphere for learning, said Phil Zaklan, who along with his wife, Jo, coaches the Springfield High bowling teams.

`They gotta know you care (about them),' he said, `that it's OK if they drop the ball in the gutter.'

Phil and Jo play on separate teams in the league, each with two of their high school players.

`They want to always beat you. I've been pretty easy lately,' said Phil, sporting a neck brace from recent surgery.

`The future of bowling is with the kids, and people are starting to realize that. It's something you can do your whole life.'

The Betty Buggers women look forward to watching Joel and Mackenzee grow into the game.

`They love it,' Clarke said. `They always have.'

Asked for his best score, Joel thinks on it for a bit and says, `Sixty-five.'

`Sixty-five,' Mackenzee questions, standing nearby. `Nuh-uh.'

As the two kids get into a back-and-forth over Joel's high game, Betty Kelly flashes a grandmotherly smile.

`We don't pay attention to that,' she says. `We're just here to have fun.'
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Title Annotation:Sports; League nights at the Timber Bowl provide multi-generational play
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 12, 2007
Next Article:Family grieves for little boy lost to fire.

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