“I’ve been raised bowling,” said Garvey, adding that her sister is a professional bowler and her children bowl on the junior level. “This is what we do. It’s our life.”
The association’s state meeting takes place every March. For years, regulations narrowed the state tournament to a handful of cities. They required single venue bids with 32 lanes, or dual-venue bids with 24 and 16 lanes. It ruled out a combined bid from Plaza Bowl (Clinton) and Imperial Lanes (Camanche), which have 20 and 12 lanes, respectively.
Charla Green, manager of the state association, said numbers have steadily dropped over the years. One of the reasons for loosening host requirements was to inject enthusiasm in statewide bowlers with more potential locations.
“It gives the bowlers more choices,” Green said. “Clinton and Camanche jumped right in. They definitely grabbed the bull by the horns.”
When this news reached the Clinton and Camanche Women’s Bowling Associations, Garvey and Graves described enthusiastic talks for getting the bid combined with a sense of the unknown. With six decades separating the region from its last state tournament, they found no one locally to steer them through the bid war.
“We’ve never attempted anything like this before — never had the option,” Graves said. “We’ve never had the option and none of us really knew what we were doing. We just jumped in with both feet.”
After they felt they gathered enough information, Graves took what she had through the Chamber doors, where she met Sondgeroth and Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Carrie Donaire.
Up the Chamber’s Alley
Sondgeroth’s knowledge of bowling pales in comparison to Graves and Garvey.
“All we wanted to do was provide back end support and some expertise to make sure their story of this rich history gets told,” he said. “They came to us and said, look, we want to do this. Becky had a dream to bring this here and she rallied our local organizations.”