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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, June 27, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSenate ‘Gutterball’ Leaves Bowling Federation Scrambling for Funds

Senate ‘Gutterball’ Leaves Bowling Federation Scrambling for Funds

Although the Senate served up a major ‘gutterball’ to the V.I. Bowling Federation, recently cutting a $25,000 appropriation, organizers are hoping some recent success in tournaments abroad will shine a new light on the sport.

The federation recently fielded a team to the World Seniors Invitational in Fort Lauderdale, FLa., which brought home 12 medals, including the gold in the women’s singles and doubles. Terri Depka was the big winner for the territory, accounting for four medals out of the bunch.

"One of the things that was extraordinary about us winning was not only our ability, but the fact that our bowling center on St. Thomas has been closed since December," said Depka, one of two St. Thomas bowlers to participate in the event.

Depka said she and Reggie Wilkerson, the other St. Thomas bowler, had to travel to St. Croix to practice and will also be exploring the possibility of going over to Tortola. With no regular league bowling since the St. Thomas facility closed, the majority of their year was spent on national team qualifiers and a few training sessions before the tournament.

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The St. Thomas bowling alley is still shut down, with no signs at this time of reopening. The last group to ask to use the facility was the territory’s Special Olympians, who were, according to their bowling coach, told that the owners would be liable if something went wrong.

But the team, at least Depka and Wilkerson, still have to train for upcoming tournaments in the summer, including the Tournament of the Americas, scheduled from July 31 to August 6 in Fort Lauderdale. Depka would also be representing the territory in the World Cup scheduled for November in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Without the bowling alley, getting Depka and other bowlers prepared is a "costly" proposition, one that includes more flights to practice on St. Croix, along with overnight hotel stays and bowling alley costs, said V.I. Bowling Federation President George Osborne.

Osborne said what really makes matters worse is that the federation did not receive a $25,000 appropriation made by the last Legislature, due to financial constraints. If the money was in hand, it is possible that the training and practice costs would not have been such a burden, and the federation would be in a better position to help its bowlers travel to the outside competitions, he said.

The organization is also sending a group of junior bowlers off island to train for next season, he said.

But without the money, the federation is left to fundraise and a couple hundred or couple thousand dollars is a small amount compared to the $25,000 that was promised, Osborne said. Depka’s ticket alone to South Africa would be $1,700, Osborne said.

"We are losing before we even try to win," he said. Osborne said the federation is in the process of organizing different events to come up with the money, including a raffle for the middle of this month, but the "sales are not that great."

"So, we’re kind of strapped for cash," he said. "And what happens is the cost ends up going on the athletes."

The federation is looking for donations and sponsors to help to cover the costs. Anyone looking to help can contact Osborne at 787-674-9771.

V.I. winners in the Senior’s Tournament were:

Women’s
Singles – Depka (gold medal)
Doubles – Depka along with Winona Lester from St. Croix (gold medal)
Trios – Depka, as part of a mixed team made up of winners from the U.S. and Ireland (gold medal), while Winona Lester, Elaine Springer and Jennie Lambert of St. Croix won the silver
Masters – Depka (bronze medal)

Men’s
Singles – Wendell Powell from St. Croix (bronze medal)
Trios – Powell, Reggie Wilkerson and Vernon Brown (bronze medal)

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Although the Senate served up a major ‘gutterball’ to the V.I. Bowling Federation, recently cutting a $25,000 appropriation, organizers are hoping some recent success in tournaments abroad will shine a new light on the sport.

The federation recently fielded a team to the World Seniors Invitational in Fort Lauderdale, FLa., which brought home 12 medals, including the gold in the women's singles and doubles. Terri Depka was the big winner for the territory, accounting for four medals out of the bunch.

"One of the things that was extraordinary about us winning was not only our ability, but the fact that our bowling center on St. Thomas has been closed since December," said Depka, one of two St. Thomas bowlers to participate in the event.

Depka said she and Reggie Wilkerson, the other St. Thomas bowler, had to travel to St. Croix to practice and will also be exploring the possibility of going over to Tortola. With no regular league bowling since the St. Thomas facility closed, the majority of their year was spent on national team qualifiers and a few training sessions before the tournament.

The St. Thomas bowling alley is still shut down, with no signs at this time of reopening. The last group to ask to use the facility was the territory's Special Olympians, who were, according to their bowling coach, told that the owners would be liable if something went wrong.

But the team, at least Depka and Wilkerson, still have to train for upcoming tournaments in the summer, including the Tournament of the Americas, scheduled from July 31 to August 6 in Fort Lauderdale. Depka would also be representing the territory in the World Cup scheduled for November in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Without the bowling alley, getting Depka and other bowlers prepared is a "costly" proposition, one that includes more flights to practice on St. Croix, along with overnight hotel stays and bowling alley costs, said V.I. Bowling Federation President George Osborne.

Osborne said what really makes matters worse is that the federation did not receive a $25,000 appropriation made by the last Legislature, due to financial constraints. If the money was in hand, it is possible that the training and practice costs would not have been such a burden, and the federation would be in a better position to help its bowlers travel to the outside competitions, he said.

The organization is also sending a group of junior bowlers off island to train for next season, he said.

But without the money, the federation is left to fundraise and a couple hundred or couple thousand dollars is a small amount compared to the $25,000 that was promised, Osborne said. Depka's ticket alone to South Africa would be $1,700, Osborne said.

"We are losing before we even try to win," he said. Osborne said the federation is in the process of organizing different events to come up with the money, including a raffle for the middle of this month, but the "sales are not that great."

"So, we're kind of strapped for cash," he said. "And what happens is the cost ends up going on the athletes."

The federation is looking for donations and sponsors to help to cover the costs. Anyone looking to help can contact Osborne at 787-674-9771.

V.I. winners in the Senior's Tournament were:

Women's
Singles - Depka (gold medal)
Doubles - Depka along with Winona Lester from St. Croix (gold medal)
Trios - Depka, as part of a mixed team made up of winners from the U.S. and Ireland (gold medal), while Winona Lester, Elaine Springer and Jennie Lambert of St. Croix won the silver
Masters - Depka (bronze medal)

Men's
Singles - Wendell Powell from St. Croix (bronze medal)
Trios - Powell, Reggie Wilkerson and Vernon Brown (bronze medal)