Miami University’s campus has plenty of venues for student sports.
For ice skating and hockey, people go to Goggin Ice Center. For basketball, students use the Rec Center’s spacious gym. Tennis courts are easy to find on campus, and it’s common to see all kinds of sports happening on Cook Field.
But for bowling, on-campus students have nothing.
Luckily, there’s a spot near the outskirts of Oxford that provides that and more.
Oxford Lanes is the only bowling alley in Oxford, located at 4340 Oxford Reily Rd. It offers bowling lanes, food and a bar.
Makenna Linkey is a senior majoring in psychology and social work, and she was previously the vice president and interim president of Club Bowling at Miami. She said the team practiced at Oxford Lanes because of its location and amenities.
“It’s absolutely amazing from a technological standpoint,” Linkey said. “There’s an app called Specto that works with sensors on the lanes to track things like where the ball’s break point is, what board it is hitting and when. There’s so much data that from a practice standpoint [that] it’s amazing to give you so much information on how you’re doing.”
The person responsible for the sensors at the bowling alley is Andrew Nieman, who has been the proprietor of Oxford Lanes since 2004. He’s been involved with the bowling alley since childhood.
“My parents bowled here when I was a kid,” Nieman said. “They bowled with the guy who trained [the previous owner] on a bunch of machines and mechanical works. So that helped create an intimate connection when I started working here in college.”
In addition to running the business, Nieman also plays an active role in helping coach players.
“I will happily coach anyone who asks me questions,” Nieman said. “I take a lot of extra classes and courses on bowling coaching, and I try to pick all the good pieces from different programs when I coach people.”
Linkey said that Nieman helps out a lot with the college team as a coach.
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“[Nieman] is a United States Bowling Congress (USBC) silver certified coach, and he’s technically our coach for the team,” Linkey said. “With his expertise and knowledge from other members on the team, we can combine our knowledge bases and it’s an absolutely wonderful learning experience.”
Nieman coaches more than just Miami’s Club Bowling team.
Owen West Poley is a senior at Talawanda High School and is a member of the Talawanda bowling team, which Nieman also coaches.
“[Nieman] puts his whole heart into this,” West Poley said. “It’s his life, and you can tell by the organization and experience that you have at the lanes.”
The bowling alley isn’t just for bowling teams, however. It welcomes people from all walks of life, hosting multiple recreational leagues, open bowling sessions and an after-school program for middle school students on Wednesday afternoons.
“One of my favorite things about [Oxford Lanes] is the customers,” Nieman said. “We get a variety of people that come through the door — social groups, churches, frats — and even people from around the world.”
Fraternities are one of the more prominent groups that use the Oxford Lanes for fun. Conal Demian is a senior majoring in journalism and entrepreneurship who bowls with Phi Kappa Phi most weeks. He said it was a good way to get off campus and have fun.
“Being a senior, I don’t get out of Oxford a lot and there’s really not much to do here in frat life besides school, friends and going out,” he said. “Everything’s in a one-mile radius and even just driving 5 minutes to go bowling is good to do something different.”
Demian also said that the people at Oxford Lanes make the experience special.
“The people there are very kind people,” Demian said. “Andrew is super helpful and a really good guy, and you can tell he puts a lot of hard work into making the alley student friendly. It helps that the drinks are really cheap, too.”
Overall, the Oxford Lanes provide excitement and a change of pace for people who know about it.
“Over the summer I’m so excited to be down here so I can use the Oxford Lanes,” Linkey said. “If you ask students on Miami’s campus, a lot of times they won’t know about it and a lot of it is because it’s a far away business — it’s a hidden gem, in a way.”