Big Country Lanes was alive with the sound of balls clattering down the lanes and pins hitting the floor on Tuesday, September 8 as leagues resumed.
Around 10 people kicked off the Tuesday Night League and set about shaking off the rust from several months without bowling. Despite their time away, some were hitting consistent strikes and all were having a great time.
However, Big Country Lanes co-owner Sherree Richet said many of their leagues still need bowlers, noting the Tuesday Night League alone could accommodate 22 more bowlers. This year marks the fifth season Richet and her husband Larry have owned and operated the lanes since coming up from Kamloops.
“Before we were married I would come up to 100 Mile and always liked this bowling alley and when Larry would come up here he always liked this bowling alley,” Richet said, explaining that when it went up for sale the two bought it first chance they got.
This year the lane has a Tuesday Night League, a Thursday afternoon and evening league, as well as Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon leagues. Both the Tuesday Night and Thursday Afternoon leagues need bowlers. This slow start is due to a mix of COVID-19 fears, Richet said, and the usual facts that people move, their health changes or they’re doing other activities like hunting.
Each league, Richet said, can host up to 32 bowlers while still maintaining social distancing practices. Youth bowling takes place on Wednesday afternoon and Saturday, she added. A No-Tap League, where if you knock down the middle three pins but the two corner pins remain standing it’s considered a strike, will be held Wednesday night’s for eight weeks starting next week, Richet said.
“It’s a great evening out, it’s a great ambience in here. We have great people who come out and play and nobody is super competitive, no experience is necessary and you can meet some new people,” Richet sad.
To protect against COVID-19 Richet said they have hand sanitizer available at every table and disinfect everything after each league departs, including balls, rack and tables. They also provide masks upon customer requests, clean their washroom diligently and do all the other safe practices you might see around town. In addition, bowlers will pick two balls to use exclusively throughout the night.
To sign up for a league costs $16 a week, $17 if you need bowling shoes as well, with prospective bowlers invited to call Big Country Lanes anytime at 778-482-5002 or message them on Facebook.
One of the bowlers opening up their season was Jim Harvey a local renovations contractor who has bowled at the lanes for the last four years. Harvey used to bowl as a child for Youth Bowl Canada and took a 30-year break before returning to the game. In 1987 he was the YBC League bowling champion at the “ripe old age of 11,” he said with a laugh.
Harvey said he returned when a few friends were visiting him from the Coast and they were looking for something to do. When he found out about the leagues, he said he “was hooked again.”
“Getting out with some other people in the community and having fun once or twice a week and being able to have fun and compete at the same time (is nice),” Harvey said. “During the winter especially there’s not a lot to do and this is easy to get to, fun to do and adds to the community so come out and do it.”
Last year Harvey made the provincial team but was unable to go due to COVID, so he’s looking forward to this year and being able to represent B.C. He remarked that this had been a rough night for him as, after way too many months off, his shots we’re not going very straight.
“These people are great, they’ve taken this alley from almost dilapidated and brought it back to life. It’s one of the nicest I’ve been in a long time and the community has got to get out here and support them,” Harvey said.