Denfeld News

Feb. 8, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

It's Duluth vs. Superior in bowling, and it's also father vs. son
By Louise Ernewein

When Cindy Levy takes her seat with the spectators at today’s Duluth-Superior All-Stars bowling series at Landmark Lanes in Superior, she’s going to have a hard call deciding whom to cheer for.

Her husband, Mitch, will be leading off for the Superior team, made up of this season’s top five bowlers in Superior. Meanwhile, her son, Brian, will be doing the same for the Duluth side after making the city’s top five.

“I will be a nervous wreck,” Cindy said with a laugh. “I will be walking back and forth, saying, ‘I can’t watch,’ then watch them throw one ball, then saying, ‘I can’t watch,’ again.”

Today will mark the culmination of many years of bowling together for the members of the Levy family, who have had many of their most precious memories created at the lanes.

Mitch, 50, started bowling at Stadium Lanes in West Duluth at age 12 and introduced Cindy to the sport while they were dating.

“The day we got married, my team screwed up and set up the city tournament for the same day, so they all turned up at our wedding reception in their bowling shirts,” reminisced Mitch, who will himself be bowling in a tournament on the couple’s 29th wedding anniversary on March 1.

The couple spent more than a decade coaching the youth bowling program at Stadium Lanes, and Cindy has played on the women’s scratch team in the league and played at the women’s Duluth-Superior All-Stars series on three occasions.

So it was only to be expected that their son, Brian, should start bowling by the time he was 4, throwing his first ball like a natural, Cindy recalled.

Within a couple of years, Brian, now 28, already was competing at state competitions in the Twin Cities and rapidly emulating his father’s success on the well-oiled maple wood lanes.

The family has always been a familiar sight at Stadium Lanes, which is four blocks from their home.

“For many years, this was basically my second home,” said Brian, whose wife, Jennifer, will be cheering him on at today’s roll-off. “Everybody knew me. [My parents] would be bowling, and I would be down the other end, bowling without a care in the world.”

Randy Hill, who bought Stadium Lanes five years ago and sought the opinions of Mitch and other bowlers on how to improve the venue, said the Levy family was one of the unique stories of bowling.

“They have lived their lives here,” Hill said. “That’s what’s so fun; seeing all the different layers of generations here. … It’s what’s so nice about the sport. You can be 4 or 74; it’s good exercise and fun for everyone to be involved.”

In 1998, while Brian attended Duluth Denfeld High School, he was a member of the team that played in the Northern Conference for the first time, coached by his father, among others.

“It was one of my most memorable years,” Brian said. “I was captain of the team and took them to state and won the state championship.”

And the passion for bowling did not end once he graduated.

Brian plays three nights a week at lanes around Duluth and Superior, and Mitch and Cindy also vary their bowling venues around the Twin Ports.

It helps both father and son maintain their impressive statistics, with Brian having attained six 300 scores in his lifetime, and three 299s. One of Mitch’s most treasured memories is his first 300 (one of three he has rolled), when his wife, son and daughter were present to witness the achievement. A score of 803 for a three-game series is also a precious recollection, and Mitch has an engraved ring to commemorate the occasion, a habit popular among bowlers.

Father and son frequently partner for tournaments and bowl together on the Twin Ports All-Stars team every Monday night.

This weekend, however, Mitch and Brian will be on opposing teams and there’s a score to be settled from four years ago, when both made the All-Stars series once before. Brian won that round.

So, how does Mitch feel about stepping up on the approach against his son?

“It feels great, you know,” he said with a smile. “He actually must have listened to my coaching all these years.”

Border bowling battle

The Duluth-Superior All-Star and Senior All-Star matches take place at 1 p.m. today at Superior’s Landmark Lanes.

Four teams of five bowlers from Duluth and Superior will compete against each other for Twin Ports bragging rights. Each squad also has an alternate.

The Superior All-Star teams swept the matches between the two cities last year, but Duluth leads the All-Star series 21-13, and the Senior All-Star series 5-2.

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