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HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Hartley looking to strike it up) Sept 15, 2023 EDITION 958

Because I have been on the airwaves going back to the 1970’s there is a perception I am old.

That may be true but I am in the midst (at age 64) of trying something new which started this year.

What I am referring to is “competitive 5-pin bowling.”

Nechako Lanes on 3rd Avenue in Prince George has a new owner (Michael Giles), and a new look with renovations that took place over the summer, so why not a new bowler for the competitive Thursday and Monday night leagues?

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Have I bowled 5-pin in the past?

Sure but that is going back well over 30 years.

Growing up in Winnipeg, now and then I would go to bowl for fun.

I was never in a league or given instruction on the finer points of the game.

Once I moved to B.C., shortly after arriving in Prince George following a two-year stint in Smithers, my wife (Brenda) and I and four friends did some casual bowling together for one season in the early 80’s at the 5th Avenue Lanes (now called Black Diamond).

It was not competitive, but we did enjoy ourselves.

We never continued as a group for various reasons, mainly because of a busy schedule.

The only real competitive bowling I have had was against my late father.

Dad thought he was a good bowler (he wasn’t) and when he came to visit me, we would head to the lanes two or three times for a battle of the Millers.

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Our scores were not great (usually in the 150-160 range) but the fierce rivalry often would be the highlight of his trip (as well as ping pong grudge matchups).

He passed away 32 years ago (1991).

Since then I have bowled just three or four times and that was mostly 10-pin.

So, you may be asking yourself why I have an interest now in 5-pin bowling after all these years.

One of our P.G. Vista Radio/ newsroom employees (Will Peters), whom I hired last year, happens to be one of the best bowlers in the city.

He is not at the top but at age 23 and with a roughly 235 average, Will still has time to get there.

With Will, who grew up through the YBC (Youth Bowling Canada) program in P.G., having a passion for the sport, rekindled my interest.

Will Peters at Nechako Lanes’ Monday night league

We talked about his bowling often and I was interested because I have always liked the sport and the finer points of the game.

Will mentioned in one of our conversations that since the pandemic there have been fewer bowlers in the city returning to play.

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Naturally, Nechako Lanes, like most bowling alleys I would assume, was looking for new players and it piqued my curiosity.

Will convinced me to join the Wednesday night Spring “fun” League (April and May this year) to practice up and see where my interest stood.

He and I were a team of two and since the scoring was a handicap system we did pretty well together.

This fall, there are leagues from Sunday to Thursday, some for Seniors, some for couples, some in a non-competitive environment and two for those that thrive on competition.

Hartley at Nechako Lanes’ Monday night league

Thursday and Monday nights at Nechako are for bowlers who feast on the competitive aspects of the game.

Because of my schedule, including doing the colour commentary on PG Cougars home nights that often happen on some Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays or Saturdays, the Thursday and/or Monday leagues would be a perfect fit for me.

Having stated that those are the two nights that the top bowlers like to compete, so where does that leave me?

In a nutshell, the way it works is on a Thursday or Monday night for example, there are eight teams of three, consisting of an A bowler (about 225 average or higher), a B bowler (about 200 to 220) and a C bowler (about 180 to 200).

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Each week two teams battle against each other with detailed stats kept for team and individual results.

An A bowler goes against the A of the other team, the B goes against the B and the C takes on the other C.

Each week is the same thing but against a new opponent.

Based on my play in the Spring league, I was on the low end of the C, but it landed me one of the 24 spots if I wanted the opportunity.

I did not want to take on too much for my first season of competitive bowling, so in the Monday Night league (I share a C spot with another player), which means I will bowl once every two weeks compared to once a week as I do on Thursdays.

(Will and I are on different teams on both nights).

I have to emphasize that the veteran players at Nechako have been very welcoming and patient with me, especially since I have a tendency to take a few extra seconds before throwing.

I have already built up some friendly rivalries based on the Spring league, including one with the new owner.

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I may have lost a step or two – ageing will do that – but the competition level has never gone away.

To show my enthusiasm I already have purchased two bowling balls and a proper pair of bowling shoes.

My history shows I have played lots of sports, have done lots of coaching and have enjoyed when the opportunity has presented itself, the underdog role.

Regardless of your age don’t shy away from trying something new that is of interest to you.

I hope to have a lot of fun as the old rookie strives to get it done.



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Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. After growing up in Winnipeg, he has lived in Prince George for the last 44 years and is entering his 11th season as the radio colour commentator on the Prince George Cougars home games. Hartley is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).


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