Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Jaybowl scores a strike with students


The orange bowling ball rolled down the left half of the highly-polished hardwood. It traveled past three blue pillars with different variations of painted Jayhawks. And, spinning, it neatly kicked out the remaining pin.

Hillary Neeland turned and seemed satisfied after picking up her spare.


"It's really nice. I like it a lot," the fifth-year senior from Great Bend said as she looked around at the newly refurbished Jaybowl in Kansas University's Kansas Union. "It's a lot better than they had before."

Neeland was among the first students taking bowling classes at the Jaybowl, which opened Tuesday morning after having been closed a year for the remodeling.

"It's brighter, which is kind of nice," Neeland said about the decor. "The lane is really slick. It's different than what I'm used to."

Another student Bob Shafer, a senior majoring in sports management from Coffeyville, was also taking a class at the Jaybowl.

"I like it," Shafer said. "You can do hard study for a little while and go have fun for a little. They really fixed it up. They've got the lanes, they have the arcade thing going, that's a plus. It's a real clean facility."

McKenzie Charlton, a Lenexa sophomore, was just learning the game. She's getting an hour of class credit for going to her bowling class twice a week.

"I think it's going to be fun," Charlton said.

And that's the intent, says Michael Fine, recreation coordinator of the Kansas and Burge Unions.

"We tried to develop this as a place where students are going to want to hang out between classes or want to come back to on campus," Fine said. "It's going to be a fun place. We hope that students take advantage of it and enjoy it."

Fine said Tuesday's opening was low-keyed, because the stairway leading down to the Jaybowl was still closed off to the public while other renovation work was progressing on the Union's first floor. Entry can be made through the elevators.

A more elaborate grand opening will be held when construction work is finished, he said.

During the last year, students enrolled in bowling classes took them at the Royal Crest Lanes in the Hillcrest Shopping Center at Ninth and Iowa streets.

"We're very happy to be back," Fine said.

"The response we've gotten so far from the students has been very favorable. ... We think this is a place the students are really going to enjoy."

They serve soft drinks and coffee. Also, the food service, Wheat Wavers, is located on the first floor.

Last week, the Jaybowl was opened exclusively to students enrolled in bowling classes. Tuesday's opening is the first day for the public.

"We're here to serve the university community and the students. That's the target audience," Fine said.

The Jaybowl hours are:¢ 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays.¢ 9 a.m. to midnight on Friday.¢ Noon to midnight on Saturdays.¢ Noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays.The cost for 10 frames is $1.75 with a KU ID; $2 without an ID. Shoe rental is $1.

He said the Jaybowl features 12 new state-of-the-art lanes and ball returns. The pin-setters have all been tuned up. And there's new carpet, tile, house balls and bowling pins.

Also, the Hawk's Nest, a student lounge area outside the Jaybowl, has also been renovated, along with the Wheat Waver's food service facility.

The Jaybowl serves as the home lanes for KU's bowling team, a club sport for men and women.

"We're just starting our tryout process," said Fine, who serves as head bowling coach. "We usually have between 25 and 30 people."

Last year's men's team was ranked eighth in the country and went to the national tournament.

He's hoping both the men's and the women's teams will be able to compete at the national championships in April in Tulsa, Okla.

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