Bowl Baby Bowl

It was an offer Bob Tankard couldn’t refuse. With the Island bowling-deprived since the 1990s and the new Barn Bowl and Bistro set to open its doors in Oak Bluffs, pent up kegler energy was rising to potentially dangerous levels. Fortunately, one of the owners of the new bowling venue knew the job of channeling kingpin karma would be, dare we say, right up Tankard’s alley and he appointed him the first Bowling Commissioner of Martha’s Vineyard.

“When Bob Sawyer asked me if I’d be interested in running the bowling leagues,” said Tankard, “I said sure, with my educational background I used to do a lot of that kind of thing.”

Tankard, who is semi-retired now and lives in Vineyard Haven, began his career teaching health and physical education at various Island schools and coaching football at the regional high school. He eventually went on to become the principal of the West Tisbury School. More recently he was vice president and director of operations for the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks baseball team. And he likes to bowl. So clearly the skill set is there to take on the challenges facing the first commissioner.

“We’ll probably have about ten leagues all together,” he explained. There will be a co-ed league, a men’s league, a women’s league, leagues for the elderly, high school kids, elementary kids...and the season will probably run from around October 1 to May 1. We plan to put up a website for the leagues soon, so people can go online and get involved.”

As the commissioner, Tankard naturally has to plan for free agency.

“If you’re an individual and want to be on a team but you don’t have one, I can put you on a team or make a team for you,” he explained. “You just have to be willing to commit to the season.”

He may be the bowling tsar of the Island, but he’s not going to rule with an iron hand. “I want to set up a five-man committee to help govern, set up rules and regulations, and help plan a big banquet for the end of the year. We just want to make everything as fun and easy for everyone as possible.”

Which is not to say that the title does not come with the requisite Island perquisites: “Yes, I believe I get to share a desk somewhere at the alleys,” said Tankard. “I’m really hoping to work a lot at home.”