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5 things to know about the bowling alley at the IMU

Oct 15, 2019

It’s a classic element of a Midwestern student union: the bowling alley.

Part of its charm is its reliability; you know what to expect, said Ryan Clemons, manager at Bowling & Billiards at the Indiana Memorial Union. Unlike off-campus bowling alleys, the one in the IMU doesn’t allow alcohol or smoking; it’s all about the game, he said.

Description of the following video:

[Words appear in lower-right corner: Indiana University presents]

[Video: A hand picks up a black bowling ball that sits next to a red ball and an orange ball on a bowling ball return at the IMU Bowling and Billiards center at Indiana University.]

[Video: An IU staff member is bowling, starting at the beginning of the lane and then throwing her ball. The camera follows the ball as it rolls down the bowling lane. The lanes feature IU tridents over the pins.]

[Video: Several faculty and staff members are bowling; one ball comes down the lane.]

[Video: Two IU employees talk over the bowling ball return as one woman picks up her ball.]

Ryan Clemons, the manager of IU’s Bowling and Billiards, speaks in voiceover: I think for faculty and staff, the bowling center is a great place to both unwind and also do departmental reservations. We can do things like team building, we can teach people how to bowl, or you can have a holiday party and just relax. There are some healthy benefits to bowling.

[Video: Clemons appears on camera, with the bowling lanes behind him.]

[Words appear in lower-left corner: Ryan Clemons, Manager, Bowling and Billiards]

Clemons speaks: It’s one of the President’s Physical Fitness Award components.

[Video: Several faculty and staff members are bowling across several lanes, throwing their balls one by one.]

[Video: A close-up of a staff member bending down and crossing one leg behind her as she throws her bowling ball.]

[Video: A close-up of bowling pins being lowered onto the lane and then released.]

Clemons speaks in voiceover: Also, they say on average, if you bowl three games, you walk a mile, just in the steps that you take to your approach and throwing your ball. Also, you’re swinging a weight that’s anywhere from 10 to 16 pounds back and forth …

[Video: Clemons appears on camera.]

Clemons speaks: … which is going to give you some healthy benefits.

[Video: Clemons leads a Healthy IU course with IU faculty and staff. He is holding a bowling ball and demonstrating how to properly throw it.]

[Video: A close-up of three staff members sitting and nodding as they listen to Clemons’ instructions.]

[Video: Clemons holds a piece of paper as he stands and talks to the class.

Clemons speaks in voiceover: Lately we’ve been working a course with Healthy IU as an initiative for staff to be able to have a downtime during lunch, and hopefully feel more comfortable when they come out and …

[Video: Clemons appears on camera.]

Clemons speaks: … recreationally bowl. So, we take an hour, once a month,

[Video: Clemons shows a staff member how to properly throw a bowling ball while another woman listens as they all stand near the bowling ball return.]

[Video: Clemons guides a staff member’s empty hand, showing her the proper way to swing her arm.]

[Video: A close-up of a bowling ball knocking down pins.]

Clemons speaks in voiceover: … and we allow staff to sign up for it, and I spend some time with them on the lanes, trying to teach them the basics of bowling so they feel comfortable when they come out and play recreationally.

[Screen goes to black]

[IU trident appears on a red tab]

[Words appear below trident: Indiana University]


Whether you’re a regular or you’ve never been, here are five things to know about the IMU’s bowling alley:

Bargain bowling

Sunday and during the middle of the day are the cheapest times to bowl, Clemons said. Prices from Sunday to Thursday are $3.25 per game with a $3.50 shoe rental.

The weather often determines how busy it is, he added. Scorching hot days and rainy days are peak bowling weather.

Throwback decor

Clemons joked that the bowling alley’s previous name – Back Alley – was fitting because the bowling alley had a generic cityscape on the walls. Now, thanks to upgrades by Clemons, it’s full of IU branding, a throwback to the union bowling alley of the late 1980s and ’90s.

Unique ball return

In most bowling alleys, the return system that brings the bowling ball back from the pins runs underneath the lanes. But at IU, the ball return system, which dates to the late ’70s, is only partially underneath. That’s because of where the alley is located – the ball return can only go so deep before it interferes with the heating pipes below, Clemons said.

Learn the game

Courses for students are offered at the lanes through the School of Public Health-Bloomington. But faculty and staff can improve their game, too.

Clemons teaches multiple “lunch and learn” classes for employees through Healthy IU each semester. Those are designed for beginners, but an advanced class will be offered this semester as well.

Rare wood lanes

Serious bowlers are not big fans of the lanes at IU’s bowling alley. That’s because the lanes, built in 1954, are made of real wood. Wood reacts to humidity, so the lanes can change slightly based on the weather, Clemons said. Most bowling alleys now have synthetic lanes, which are more consistent and reliable for bowlers who are working on their game.

Ready to bowl? Find out more, including hours of operation and how to book lanes for a group.

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