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'You meet great people': Women’s bowling league focuses on way more than just the game

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Lots of laughter, full lanes and fast balls have become the norm at Holy Bowly in Riverview, N.B., every Wednesday morning.

Around 30 women gather from 9 a.m. until about noon to participate with their weekly bowling league in Riverview, N.B. While it looks like a fierce competition between teams, it doesn’t take long to figure out this gathering is about much more than just the game.

“We come here and we just bowl away. I guess over the years I have done a little better, but not much,” laughed Cathy Roul, who has been in the league for five years now.

“Sometimes we wonder if we’re coming here to socialize or to bowl because it’s all such fun to do. You meet great people… Some of us have gone out to golf after and things like that.”

While the group is divided into teams, it’s common to watch people gather behind the seats or get caught up in a conversation with someone a few alleys down.

However, that’s the point, according to league president Linda Tower.

“It’s a morning out. It’s meeting great people, and we’re having lots of fun, lots of laughter and jokes and what not. We play tricks on each other. We usually dress up for special occasions,” she said.

Tower has been bowling with the league for the last 12 years, but she says it has been around a lot longer.

“We don’t care if people are professional or if they’re just starting to bowl. We invite them in and it’s just a fun day,” she said.

The league is always looking for new members and Tower says interested women can go to the bowling ally to sign up.

Teams are currently made up of five players, but if more people joined on a full-time basis, Tower says the league could return to teams of four.

Earlier this month, Roul put a post out on social media that helped draw a lot of attention to the league.

“I’ve got 10 people who want to get out, and when they get there, they say, ‘I’m new in town and I don’t know where to go.’ And it’s just great to have them here,” said Roul.

“It’s great to meet people.”

While many members start out as strangers, others are well-known to each other.

Jackie Beck, who became a permanent member of the league this year, brings her 82-year-old mom out as a spare player some weeks.

“My mom isn’t always a very social person, so it really helped the social aspect of her life. And it was funny, the day she was here bowling, she was kind of bopping around, talking to people, which that’s not her normal, but I just saw the joy in face,” she said.

“She had a good long nap after the first time she spared because you don’t realize how much energy you expend.”

The group also does a 50/50 draw every week, which goes towards a year-end event and other little extras throughout the year.

Between the socializing and connection-building, the bowlers even find time to improve their game.

“Today I started with a zero for my first box,” said Beck.

“I ended with an 80. My average is 68, so I’m doing better this week.”

Over the years, the members have changed, but the main purpose has not – building friendships one strike at a time.

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