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Friday August 23rd, 2013

Posted at 10:00am

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Playdium 5 Pin Lanes’ gold medal Bantam team enjoys the closing ceremonies of the 2012 national four Steps tournament in Newfoundland

While youths often take part in sports, a sometimes overlooked league is recruiting players.

Soccer, hockey and softball teams are commonly joined by children in Windsor-Essex. Although they often seem like the only options for getting kids into sports, that isn’t exactly true. Take Playdium 5 Pin Lanes, located at 985 Wyandotte Street East for instance. The alley is doing its best to get the word out about their Youth Bowling Canada (YBC) league, which starts September 7th.

Open to youths of all ages, the registration fee of $25 or less is easy on the wallet too.

“Children from ages 3 to 19 are encouraged to participate in our youth program,” said Mandy Pickering, who has been program organizer for the past four-years. “They can sign up at Playdium Lanes during business hours. We have a special promotion that if they register before labour day they will save $5 on registration. Late registrations are also welcome if there’s space.”

Pickering, 32, was involved in the league long before becoming program organizer: Her mom held the position for 25-years before passing it down. Beyond her current role, she has also helped coach children since being a teenager.

Having this experience keeps her open to ways of making it fun for everyone.

“I receive a lot of positive feedback,” said Pickering. “I am always open to suggestions by parents and children. We just try to keep it fun for everyone. We have a party for Halloween and the Holidays. We have fun games for them to win prizes. There are many tournaments, most of which are pins over average so everyone is eligible to win.”

Building on last year’s momentum, Pickering is improving on the program. 85 youths signed-up in 2012 but she hopes to push the number above 100. With only six of ten lanes being used during the noon shift, there’s room for expansion as well.

Social media will be used more prominently: Both to get the word out and for those involved to stay connected. Pickering is also hoping to improve the league by ensuring her team coaches are certified in the newest coaching program.

As for the league itself, participants are put into different age brackets which determines when and how much they play. Bowlasaurus’ (ages 3 to 4 as of December 31st, 2013) bowl one game with bumpers at 9:3am on Saturdays. Peewees (ages 5 to 7) bowl two games at 9:30am  on Saturdays.  Bantams (ages 8 to 10) can bowl at the 9:30 or noon shifts. Juniors (ages 11 to 14) bowl on the noon shift. Finally, Seniors (ages 15 to 19) bowl on Sundays at 6:30pm.  Bantams, Juniors and Seniors all play three games.

In addition to registration fees, weekly costs are $4.50 for Bowlasaurus, $8 for Peewees and $10 for Bantams, Juniors and Seniors. A Playdium YBC shirt must also be purchased for $8 per t-shirt or $12 per collar shirt. Registration fees cover bowling, awards, a banquet and many tournaments.

Beyond the YBC league, Playdium 5 Pin Lanes offers many different services for those looking to get active: Young or old, there’s probably something for you.

“Playdium provides many leagues for a variety of people,” said Pickering. “One can start bowling as young as three and we currently have a 97-year-old lady who bowls in the Monday night league. There is also a blind bowlers league and we offer family rock and bowl on weekends.”

As for the success of the YBC league? Playdium 5 Pin Lanes’ Bantam boys won gold at the national 4 Steps tournament in Newfoundland last year. Of course, Pickering was there cheering them on the whole time.

“I volunteer as Program Director because I love it,” she said. “We provide a fun program for children to make friends and stay active. It also can provide competition, which I enjoy being a part of. I always try to attend as many tournaments as possible to cheer on the youth bowlers.”

For more information about the YBC league or other services Playdium 5 Pin Lanes offers, those interested can call 519-945-3111, follow them on Facebook or visit their website.

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