Troy Overby of Richmond bowling league, Odds and Ends. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Troy Overby, longtime member of the Richmond amateur bowling league Odds and Ends, speaks of the group with the characteristic passion of bowlers worldwide. “The greatest part for me is, it’s really a social type of situation, more so than just the bowling,” he says. “It’s an opportunity for people of all skill levels to come together, enjoy each other and just enjoy the game.”
Odd and Ends, founded in the 1980s by the late LaVerne Pleasant of Richmond, is home to 54 teams, each with five members, all united by the common interests of “bowling, traveling and having a good time.”
Odds and Ends is a proud member of the National Bowling Association [TNBA], founded in 1939 as an athletic outlet for African-American players who weren’t allowed to join the then all-white American Bowling Congress.
“It used to be called The National Negro Bowling Association,” veteran Odds and Endsmember Henry Womack recalls. “Back then, black players couldn’t join up with the big national groups.”
The organization was renamed in 1944, after its membership swelled to include “a large number of Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans and people of color other than black,” according to its official history. TNBA also sought to bring equality to bowling, and, in 1950, 11 years after its formation, both the American Bowling Congress — now the United States Bowling Congress — and The Women’s International Bowling Congress removed clauses from their constitutions that restricted non-whites from joining or competing.
Odds and Ends is also a member of The Greater Richmond United States Bowling Congress, “the governing body for the local leagues,” Overby says. The GRUSBC helps report game results for each league and hosts adult and youth association tournaments, among other duties. It also supports dozens of leagues at the five most popular area bowling alleys: AMF Hanover Lanes, AMF Shrader, AMF Sunset, Bowl America Short Pump and Uptown Alley.
Among the 54 teams in the Odds and End league is the Messengers Club, which also was founded in the 1980s. The club competes in at least five tournaments each year, but Overby emphasizes that its focus is not only enjoying the sport, but also on supporting local youth.
“We try to get them involved in the sport of bowling to give them some other outlets,” Overby says. “We spend time with them; we help them with their skills, things like that.”
The club holds raffles in which half of the money benefits youth leagues; it also donates balls and shoes to children and young adults who can’t afford them. It has also raised money to buy school supplies for local students.
Though most of the players in the Messengers Club and the Odds and Ends league are black, Overby stresses that all who cherish the game are welcome.
“We’re always taking new members,” he says. “We’re a diverse group, with diverse interests, but we all love bowling.”
For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.