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Courtesy | Cal Abbo

What do busy college stu­dents do when they want to merge date night with intra­mural sports? For Hillsdale stu­dents in the 1960s, the answer was simply to join a couples’ bowling league. 

While this activity is usually reserved for middle-aged partners trying to revive their com­pet­itive spirit, the activity was remarkably popular at Hillsdale. 

A March 25, 1965 Col­legian article reads, “Because of the demand for orga­nized group bowling, the Fred A. Knorr Memorial Student Center is making prepa­ration for a couples league at the bowling lanes.”

The article con­tinued, “The league will run for four weeks com­mencing the week of April 12.” 

This was not the first attempt to form a couples’ bowling league. In fact, attempts to organize com­pe­ti­tions began in the fall semester. 

An Oct. 14, 1965 article reads, “We have eight couples now, but need four more in order to start the league— so get your guys and your ‘dollies’ and let’s see some bowling.” 

I have a feeling that a major reason the league had such a tough start was that no girls were willing to become the dollies of the bowling alley. 

Bowling was such a popular activity for Hillsdale stu­dents of the day that leagues existed not only for couples, but also for fra­ter­nities and women.

On March 4, 1965, The Col­legian read, “The Women’s Bowling League spon­sored by the WRA began this week and will run until April 29.”

The article con­tinued, “The eight teams will be com­peting for tro­phies given at the end of the league series. One trophy will be given to the team having the highest score and another will be given for the indi­vidual having the highest series.” 

While there were only eight teams, the groups more than made up for their small number with their great names. 

According to The Col­legian, team titles included the Beta Bowlers, the Gut­ter­balls and the Winners. 

In a tough turn of events, the 1965 season con­cluded with the Winners coming in second to last place. 

In an even tougher turn of events, the Gut­ter­balls absolutely demol­ished the Winners in the league rankings. 

You really hate to see it in the bowling com­munity. 

To cap off a won­derful season, an April 29, 1965 Col­legian article reported that “a tea hon­oring all bowlers will be held at Ambler, Monday, May 3, at which time the tro­phies will be given. For those less for­tunate and less ath­let­i­cally inclined members booby prizes will be given to them as a remem­brance of some very good times.” 

Bowling is the only sport that could suc­cess­fully host a team tea to com­mem­orate ath­letic achievement. 

The pop­u­larity of bowling at Hillsdale was likely due to the opening of an on-campus bowling alley. 

On Dec. 10, 1964 The Col­legian reported, “The Student Union Bowling Alley which opened last week is now oper­ating full time.”

Unfor­tu­nately, the bowling alley has since departed from the Hillsdale College campus. While the space and funding was likely turned into a study spot or some sort of aca­demic forum, it would be great for campus culture if we brought back this in-demand hills­dating spot.