Bowling on the Bluff: The Union’s former alley

Photo by Claire Murray | Photo Editor. A bowling alley lived in the space now occupied by the NiteSpot on the first floor of the Union.

Photo by Claire Murray | Photo Editor. A bowling alley lived in the space now occupied by the NiteSpot on the first floor of the Union.

By Jess Goldstein | The Duquesne Duke

A fast approaching winter means more indoor activities are in the cards. As far as finding something fun to do, bowling has always been a fun option. However, bowling alleys around the downtown area are nearly impossible to find. But was this always the case? As it turns out, Duquesne once had our very own bowling alley where the NiteSpot currently resides.

According to Thomas White, the university archivist and curator of special collections, when the Union was built in 1964, it was indeed built with a two or three lane bowling alley in the basement. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, bowling was a very popular sport and the lanes were used frequently.

When the 1990s and 2000s approached, however, the university believed the Union needed renovations, including eliminating the outdated bowling alleys. Rodney Dobish, the executive director of facilities management, said the lanes were removed in 2000 during first floor renovations.

“At the time, the university wanted to create a space where students could hang out,” Dobish said. “The bowling alleys weren’t used very often, so they renovated that area and created the NiteSpot.”

Despite the decline in the popularity of bowling in the 1990s, the sport has seen new interest recently. In fact, the attention towards bowling has reached such a pinnacle that the Athletic Department is sponsoring the addition of a women’s bowling team, said to start competing in the 2016-2017 school year.

According to Dave Harper, the university’s athletic director, the coach has already been chosen. Jody Fetterhoff, an experienced coach from Adrian College in Michigan, has secured the job. Harper said that Fetterhoff’s experience appealed to the Athletic Board. When a new sport is being incorporated into the Athletic Department, having an experienced coach is the best way to ensure the most efficient path to success.

As for why Duquesne decided to sponsor a women’s bowling team, Harper had a clear and concise answer.

“There are two factors,” he said. “One: we must maintain gender equity with scholarships and opportunities, and two: bowling is an emerging sport with a lot of opportunity for success at the Division 1 level.”

Without any bowling alleys on campus, though, where will the upcoming bowling team spend its time practicing for matches? Harper said at this point there is not a set answer, as it is still an issue under discussion. He did clarify that an off-campus location is a legitimate option.

Just as with many social trends, bowling has fluctuated and is on the rise again. Who knows, there may be future renovations on campus soon and the bowling trends of the ‘60s may be repeating themselves once again.

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