Column: Negative consequences are likely to follow the closing of Forest Lanes, especially with our local student-athletes
This From the Sidelines column appeared in the August 17 edition of the News Journal:
Last Thursday night I, like many others, was blindsided by the news that the Forest Lanes bowling alley in Corbin would soon be closing its doors for good. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, can you imagine this town without Forest Lanes? Wow…
I rarely ever bowl myself, but I know many folks who do. Not to mention, I have covered our local school bowlers for the past three years. To think about how many people this unfortunate situation is going to affect truly breaks my heart. It may not seem like a huge deal to some, but to those who spend a lot of time at the lanes, it’s more than just huge. It’s life changing.
I first found out about the closing late Thursday as I was taking a look at my Facebook feed before bed. I saw a post from Corbin Rollin’ Redhounds coach Kenny Kysar. He was obviously upset about something pertaining to the bowling alley, so I asked him to explain. That’s when he broke the news to me that Forest Lanes would soon be no more.
Immediately upon hearing this I began to think about the many kids that Kysar and his fellow coaches have guided over the last several years. I began to think about how many of those kids have gone on to compete in collegiate bowling, and how many more have aspirations of doing so in the future. To think that those opportunities may soon be gone because of this whole ordeal is just terrible. It really is.
But forget about scholarships for a second. What about the kids who just like to play? What about all of the people who just like to come to the lanes for a fun night out with family or friends? What about all of the league bowlers whose social lives and relationships center on this bowling alley? No doubt, this closing will have a serious negative effect on several members of our community, but as a sports reporter I am still most concerned for those student bowlers who have dedicated their time and energy to competing for their school teams.
I had a lengthy conversation with Agnes Brown-Oliphant Friday morning. She is the assistant bowling coach at Whitley County, who just completed their inaugural season earlier this year. She also has two daughters who bowl for the Colonels, Jacqueline and ReighAnn, who I understand are very distraught about this whole mess, and understandably so.
Agnes expressed to me her strong feelings of disappointment over the matter, as did Whitley County Head Coach Herman Moore after her. Lynn Camp’s Head Coach Ryan Carnes also was very upset about what has happened, but everyone is currently refusing to give up on their respective programs. All coaches that I have spoken to have been scrambling and talking to everyone they can think of who might be able to help them come up with some type of alternate plan. Nobody wants to tell their kids that they can no longer bowl, but unfortunately, the decision may have already been made for some of them.
It’s going to make things much more difficult for our schools to keep their bowling programs intact considering the fact that the nearest alley will now be at least an hour away. I sincerely hope that something, anything, can get worked out, but right now it’s just not clear whether or not that will happen for everyone. If Forest Lanes closing does mark the end for any of our local bowling teams, that would be nothing short of tragic. I hope that won’t be the case, but only time will tell.
In addition to the Corbin, Lynn Camp and Whitley County bowling programs, Knox Central, the University of the Cumberlands and Union College have also been using the Corbin bowling alley as their home base for operations over the last several years. Again, this is a much bigger issue than many folks may have initially thought, but for those of us who know about how popular the sport is in our area, well, we know full well just how severe the consequences of this decision could be. For some, it may be truly disastrous.
Hopefully our local bowlers will receive some type of good news soon, but in the meantime I just want to urge everyone, especially our younger players, to hang in there. I feel your pain, and I’m sorry that this is happening. I hope this isn’t the end of our bowling coverage in the News Journal, but I, like the rest of you, will just have to wait and see how all of this will play out.