As I walk into Turner Lanes on the Dual Highway in Hagerstown each Thursday, I am greeted with smiles and warm familiar faces. There is always lots of chatter going on, especially over at the lunch tables where a group of at least 10 ladies are eating soup or sandwiches from the diner inside the building before our league starts bowling. This league of women bowlers is relatively new to me but many of these ladies have been bowling together for years! It is the Fountain Head Ladies Bowling League and it is now celebrating its 75th year!
A few years ago I moved to Hagerstown not knowing a soul. My kids were off to college or in high school and my husband was working. I knew that if I got involved and tried new things I would meet people and develop friendships. The process of making new connections started when I began taking golf lessons at Fountain Head Country Club and eventually joined the Nine Hole Golf Group. It was there, over lunch, that I was asked if I wanted to join a Duck Pin bowling league. I had never bowled Duck Pins but decided to give it a try in the fall of 2021. I was placed on an auxiliary team called the “Sunshine Girls”, comprised of newbies who needed to practice their bowling and develop a bowling average. Our coach, Diane Brining, was amazing! She cheered us on and honed our skills until our averages were high enough to be placed on a team. While learning to bowl, we bonded, developed friendships, and encouraged each other. It was a blast!
Fast forward to this year, three years later, I have taken on the role of President for the league! I have absolutely fallen in love with this group of women. We have good bowlers, we are well organized, we have fun competing, but more than anything we have camaraderie. At 54 years old, I am the youngest bowler in the group. Our ages span from the 50’s to the late 80’s! It is so incredibly fun to see women twenty to thirty years older than me get up on the bowling lane and throw spares or even an occasional strike. As we bowl, music plays, women dance and often cheers erupt when someone gets a mark. Heck, we cheer when someone makes progress and gets more pins down than they typically do.
Fountain Head Ladies Bowling League was originally started to give women golfers an opportunity to pursue another sport during the fall and winter seasons. The league, which over the years expanded and welcomed non-members, currently has 48 bowlers on 10 teams, each with 4-5 team members and a Captain. We have two seasons and bowl 14 weeks in both the Fall and Spring. At the annual Spring Bowling Banquet we celebrate the friendships made over the year and unveil the top teams, the most improved bowlers, and the bowlers with the highest sets and games. The best part of the banquet is seeing everyone dressed up, enjoying cocktails, and spending time together one last time before we part ways for the summer.
This bowling league provided me with the opportunity to make connections with the broader community. It so happened that I met Bernadette Wagner, Prime Time for Women’s fearless leader, my very first year. As we got to know one another she shared her stories and mission about Prime Time for Women. I liked her ideas and decided to join PTFW to connect with even more women in the community. Currently, as a board member, I believe that PTFW’s mission of creating positive social connections is so critical to our health and well-being, in addition to our community.
When I ask the women of Fountain Head Ladies Bowling League why they continue to bowl, almost every answer is the same: they love the fellowship of the women, they love challenging themselves to improve their bowling, and they love meeting new friends! Maybe I will never be a world-class bowler, but I will always be a bowler surrounded by wonderful friends who have remarkable stories, and warm hearts. I have expanded my friendships, my purpose, and my leadership. I am grateful that I took a chance on something new and different and also grateful that I now have the opportunity to lead the Fountain Head Ladies Bowling League through its 75th Anniversary Year while also serving with PTFW. Cheers to many more!