Several past and present members of the Kansas University bowling team gathered on Saturday afternoon for one last time at Jaybowl before the 62-year-old bowling alley in KU’s student union officially closed its doors.
Alan Emmons, a member of KU’s 2004 bowling national championship team, reached out to around 140 other alumni so the Jayhawk bowling program could come together and remember Jaybowl.
“What we’ve done is invited alumni from as far back as the ’80s,” Emmons said. “I know I’ve got some people here from the ’85-’86 team.”
Some alumni even further back than the 80s came back as well, such as 2014 PBA Hall of Fame inductee Bob Glass. Glass reflected on his days as a bowler and coach at Kansas and how he used the lanes post-college to become a professional.
“The old lanes here, lanes 1, 2, 3 and 4, were in the basement of Hoch Auditorium in the 1920s,” Glass said. “They were really old wood lanes. You used to have to pound the nails down every year. (Mike Fine, KU coach for 19 years) used to let me practice down there because they were the hardest lanes. If I could bowl a 190 game here, then I could bowl a 200 anywhere else.”
Just as Glass kicked off his career at Jaybowl, Free State High bowling coach Burton Gepford launched his playing and coaching career there as well. Gepford, who bowled at KU for four years and coached the Jayhawks for two seasons, explained how rare it is for a college team to have its own lanes.
“It was a privilege for the KU bowling team to have their own bowling facility on campus,” Gepford said. “A lot of other collegiate teams don’t have that.”
Although Jaybowl has closed its door and is tentatively planned to become a pub/bar and grill in the future, KU senior bowler Kyle Rosberg wants people to know that the legacy of the KU bowling team will continue.
“There’s bowling alleys everywhere, like even the other one in town (Royal Crest Lanes), you go there and you never know who is going to be there,” Rosberg said. “But you come here, and there is a tradition with it, just like anything else on this campus.”