Hillsboro Monday Bowling League wraps up another successful season

Stan Ens goes for a strike on the last night of Monday Bowling League in Hillsboro on Monday, April 29.
Participants enjoy bowling and visiting on the last night of Monday Bowling League on Monday, April 29.

On most Monday evenings during the school year, Main Street in Hillsboro is often lined with parked cars between A Street and Grand as people fill the Bluejay Bowling Lanes. They are the participants in the Monday Bowling League.

“It’s a mixed league of men and women. We are sanctioned through the USBC which is United States Bowling Congress,” said Jenny Pohlmann who bowls on the Central National Bank team.

The USBC is a sports membership organization dedicated to ten-pin bowling in the U.S.

Women and men of all ages participate in the league that runs about 32-34 weeks long— around the same time as the school calendar.

“We usually start the 2nd week in September after Labor Day. And then we had one week where it was snowing and 2 weeks when we broke for Christmas and New Years,” said Virginia Martens who was the Women’s League Manager for over 40 years.

Martens said that in years past, they had more bowlers and women had multiple leagues a week.

“Then we didn’t have enough members to fill out the thing so we opened it up to men. So that’s why it’s mixed now. And we just meet on Monday nights,” said Martens.

According to General Manager Clint Seibel, Hillsboro’s Trail Lanes Bowling Alley was established in 1962 by local Hillsboro business owners, Ray and Betty Funk along with Art and Harriett Suderman. “During that era, bowling was very popular and bowling leagues would run two sessions per night to keep up with the demand,” said Seibel. “While the original pinsetter machines continue to operate even to the present, however, today’s bowlers are demanding the latest in automated scoring since hand scoring has become a lost art. Needless to say, installing new scoring systems are expensive forcing many small-town bowling alleys to close.”

In 2012 a group of concerned citizens facilitated by Seibel, then Executive Director of the Hillsboro

Development Corporation (HDC), met regularly to discuss ways to find safe places for the

youth of the community to interact without having to travel out of town.

“The idea to purchase the local bowling alley to operate as a Youth/Bowling Center was birthed. In February of 2013, HDC entered into an agreement with the Ray Funk Trust to purchase Trail Lanes,” said Seibel.

The original purchase was made possible by a generous donation along with additional funding from HDC. However for the new owner to receive a certificate of occupancy certain requirements including ADA compliant bathrooms, a wheelchair lift and other infrastructure improvements had to be made nearly doubling the investment.

At that time, Tabor College was in the beginning stages of developing an intercollegiate bowling program and was enthusiastically supportive of the proposed plans to remodel. Along with an Economic Development Grant and many local contributors, Tabor made a substantial financial commitment to complete the remodeling which included naming rights—thus the name change to Tabor College Bluejay Lanes.

The Monday Bowling League began the 2023-2024 season on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. The season ended on Monday, April 29.

Eight teams of four bowlers participated each Monday and seemed to enjoy both playing the game and visiting with other bowlers.

“I think it’s just getting together and staying active. It’s something you can do no matter your age,” said bowler Elizabeth Hill. “There’s people here I would never have ever known. What else is there in Hillsboro where you can be active like this and get to know people?”

“I like it because it is something to get out and meet people and talk to people and see what’s going on,” said Pohlmann.

League Secretary Cynthia Fleming agrees, “Bowling in a league is a great way to learn to meet people you probably would not have the opportunity to know. It’s good exercise and a challenging sport.”

The league splits the season into three sections. The first two sections are 14 weeks long. The league ends the year with a three-week tournament.

CSI, Inc was the 1st place winner after the first 14 weeks.

Hillsboro Hardware placed 1st in the 2nd 14 weeks.

Hillsboro Hometown Pharmacy took the championship in the three-week tournament.

Other teams bowling were Central National Bank, Dale’s Supermarket, L & L Cleaning, Sgt. LaPerle’s Barber Shop and Vintage Bank Kansas.

The 2024-2025 season will begin on Monday, Sept. 9.

The league is always looking for bowlers who wish to join a team or who would like to substitute when the regular bowler is not available. Anyone interested in bowling please text or call League President Peni Ens at 620-947-3862 or League Secretary Cynthia Fleming at 620-382-5550.

Tabor College Bluejay Lanes is open on Friday and Saturday nights for public bowling during the school year. The lanes are also available for parties throughout the year including the summer months. To schedule a party, please call 620-266-2695 and leave a message. Bluejay Bowling Lanes can be found on Facebook.

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