Maple Lanes fire forces adjustments for bowling team

After the robbery and fire at Maple Lanes early Tuesday, Feb. 4, the bowling teams evaluated how to cope with the losses and adjust their seasons.

Maple Lanes bowling alley fell victim to a robbery and fire on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at around 3 a.m. that damaged the front half of the building yet spared the lanes. Three robbers broke in and held a maintenance worker captive, instructing him not to move while they searched safes and vending machines for cash. About an hour later, the worker fled to the nearby fire station after feeling intense heat in the building.

The damaged building and equipment has forced the Cedar Falls bowling squads to make adjustments. Men’s varsity bowling coach Brad Baker said the fire has affected his team’s schedule, having to make shifts for both practices and meets. “We had two home meets left, and so we had to kind of flip those. So, instead of hosting our last two, we are actually going to go to Western Dubuque and then to Waterloo East,” Baker said. 

Making the best of a tough situation, Baker said the team is able to relocate practices and stay on course. “This week, we had practice Monday, but, of course, then it was Monday night when everything happened. We didn’t have anything planned Tuesday. We’re gonna miss Wednesday’s practice, and then we had to adjust the meet to Thursday, so we’re missing that, but next week our practice schedule is back to roads of normal. We’re just going to be at Cadillac instead of Maple.”

Even with the fire, Baker said there’s still plenty of bowling to do in the upcoming month. The team has a regional qualifier on Feb. 18 in Cedar Rapids, and then the State tournament will be at Cadillac Lanes in Waterloo on Feb. 26.

Senior bowler Will Nickey said that preparations won’t waiver going into the State tournament. “Right now our practice has been affected because we are going to have to switch bowling alleys and work around other teams’ schedules for lane times. It doesn’t really affect our preparation for the state meet. We just need to get used to our new equipment first,” Nickey said.

With two college teams and three high school teams now practicing at Cadillac Lanes, senior bowler Sofia Muñoz said practices may be hard to get in. “I’m sure we’ll get time. It’ll just be tight, especially so close to State. I hope lack in practice time doesn’t set us back too far, but it’s going to be up to individuals to keep up what we’ve been working for during this dip,” Muñoz said.

Neither the men or women’s teams have been able to determine what all exactly was lost in the fire. “Right now, we’re not 100 percent sure because we haven’t actually been able to get into the building, but we’re under the assumption that pretty much everything is a total loss at this point,” Baker said.

Muñoz also said it’s safe to assume that all their equipment was lost. “Pretty much everything was damaged. We heard from Baker that the fire was mainly in the kitchen and pro shop (where new equipment and stuff that was getting fixed was) and the water damaged the rest,” Muñoz said. “A lot of the team had their stuff in lockers throughout the building, and with what we know, we’re assuming it was all damaged. There is a possibility that very few people’s stuff may be salvageable just due to the placement of the lockers.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 5 both the men’s and women’s teams set out to Cedar Rapids to go purchase new equipment. “May City is where the guys are going because the Mount Mercy head coach runs the pro shop down there and I know him, so he’s gonna help us out with that,” Baker said. “The girls are gonna go to Revolutions Bowling Center, which is attached to CRBC (Cedar Rapids Bowling Center). The teams around have done a really good job at helping us out.”

Since most of the bowlers purchase their own equipment, they’ll have to spend their own dime replacing all that they lost. “The school will pay for new bowling balls and ‘rent’ them to you, but if you want to actually keep the balls, you have to pay for them. I think insurance will reimburse the cost of the balls but I’m not super sure,” Nickey said.

Although the exact damage is unknown, Baker said the equipment didn’t have to be directly impacted by fire to still be ruined. “Any of the guys that had equipment stored at the facility is pretty well gone at this point because when they get heated up, the material expands; it’ll crack. Even if all it does it gets heated a little bit, even if there’s no water, no smoke, no whatever, it’ll still expand and crack,” Baker said.

Beyond the loss of equipment, Muñoz said she was stunned by the news as was the rest of the team. “The fire definitely was a shock to all of us. Many of us have spent countless hours at Maple with practices, league and even just friends. When I first saw the news, my

stomach dropped, and it’s been a sad couple of days,” Muñoz said. “The team definitely took a hit. With quite a few people losing their equipment, it was hard. We’re all just supporting each other to get through it.”

Nickey agreed and said the bowling alley was a great place to be and the fire has only brought the team closer. “A lot of our bowlers lost equipment so that obviously affects us. Maple lanes was also a place where we spent a lot of our free time doing leagues and just bowling for fun,” Nickey said. “I think at first everyone was kind of going through shock, but then it became a little more of a bonding experience for everyone. A little adversity helped out team cohesion.”

Along with Nickey, Baker agreed shock is the primary emotion for the team at the moment. “Right now, I think part of it is just we’re kind of a little bit in shock of everything, but I think it’s gonna be one of those ‘it’s gonna be a good story’ and you know, it’s gonna be one of those ‘hey, we rose to a challenge; we went out and finished the season after a fire with brand new stuff and went out and did amazing,’ so I think that’s kind of our approach at this point,” Baker said. “Life is gonna throw some challenges at you, and you have to rise to those.”

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