"All right, people, it's time to bowl!"
Nancy Middleton has been starting the Tuesday Morning Foursome duckpin league at Fair Lanes Westview that way for seven years. That's just one of the many ways that a good league secretary takes care of business.
Middleton, a retired AT&T; employee, born and raised in Baltimore, lives in Windsor Hills.
"I've been bowling about 20 years," she said. "I hope I'll be bowling for another 20 years."
Too many people think that being a league secretary is easy. Too many league secretaries think the same thing. That's where a lot of trouble develops.
A good secretary can make bowling a pleasure; a bad secretary can turn a league into a nightmare.
There are just too many details for anyone to approach the job without a great deal of dedication, too many things that can go wrong if the secretary isn't doing the job properly.
The schedule and standings are important. Everyone wants to know exactly what lane they're on and which team they're going to bowl. But there's so much more that a good secretary can do.
One of the important things is making sure that the league is a happy one to bowl in.
That starts with the secretary doing little things -- like finding members for teams that have bowlers drop out, making sure that the prize fund is approved by the league before the last day of the season and making sure that the teams finish games on time so that the next leagues aren't held up.
But when you ask Middleton what's the toughest part of her job, she's says: "Nothing, really, it just takes a little time."
Middleton carries a 112 average, has a high game of 183, a high set of 430 and always makes sure that she "has a little time" for her league.
Making the sport fun
Susan Berwanger knows what it takes to have a happy bowling center.
Berwanger, born and raised in Baltimore, lives in Towson, a few minutes from the Fair Lanes Joppa duckpin center.
Her husband, Bob, throws a tenpin ball at Fair Lanes Towson; he averages 225 at that center.
When you ask Susan Berwanger about her duckpin averages, she laughs, "About 90!"
She started bowling ducks about two years ago and is still trying to master the difficult sport of throwing a 3-pound ball at 10 little pins 60 feet away. She has a high game of 128, a high of 327. And she's not positive that those figures are correct.
"I bowl for recreation," she said. "I bowled tenpins for a long while [averaging 140-plus] and finally decided that I should know how to bowl ducks if I was going to be in a duckpin center."
Her title is marketing host at Joppa, a position that she's held for four of the five years she's been a Fair Lanes employee.
"I want folks to come in and enjoy themselves," Berwanger said, "especially the ladies and the kids."
She said there is a Monday Morning Moms league [the only league in which she competes] that offers baby-sitting, pastries and coffee to entice women to bowl.
"It's a fun league, the scores and the standings just aren't that important, it's a morning out of the house," she said.
Berwanger also noted that the youth leagues didn't stop with the end of the winter season.
"We have about 55 youngsters bowling on Tuesday morning this summer," she said. "They bowl at 10 o'clock and there's room for more!"
National Amateur Bowlers Inc is playing host to the fifth annual Firecracker Open this weekend at Crofton Bowling Centre. First place is $3,000 guaranteed.
Information: (410) 721-2401.
* The Duckpin Bowlers Tour is at Fair Lanes Middlesex for a doubles event that will end tomorrow. First place is worth $1,200. The tour stop is sponsored by John Schap of the G&S; Company.
Information: (410) 747-8429.
* The Free State Classic Tenpin Tour will be at Bowl America Odenton next weekend. First place is $800 guaranteed.
Information: (410) 356-0936.