By Fred Eisenhammer
That was an outpouring of affection for Liz Rogers, who was celebrating her 80th birthday. Rogers, who has been bowling for 50 years and has been the beloved secretary for four Valley-area bowling houses, was toasted by dozens of fellow bowlers and friends during Thursday’s “Thirsty Nite Out” league competition.
“I was shocked and surprised. I was just standing there and the whole bowling center stopped and sang ‘happy birthday’ to me. It really touched me. It was really neat,” said Rogers, who was draped with a pink sash that read, “Birthday Princess.”
Rogers is currently serving as secretary of the “Thirsty Nite Out” league. “Liz is the sweetest ever,” said Amy Lew, a top bowler in the league. “She takes care of everyone and has the biggest heart. She’s the sunshine of our league.”
The right-handed Rogers averaged in the 180s in her heyday and still averages a more-than-respectable 159 in the “Thirsty Nite Out” league. “That isn’t bad for an 80-year-old,” said Rogers, laughing.
She finished her Thursday night action with a stirring 178 in her third and final game. “And I had an open in the 10th,” Rogers said.
Rogers, a Woodland Hills resident, has served in key administrative bowling positions throughout the years. She was president of the San Fernando Valley women’s bowling association and a board member of the Los Angeles men’s bowling association in the ’90s. And at the start of the new decade, she served as first vice president of the north Los Angeles County bowling association.
All the while, she worked as the league secretary at now-defunct Granada Bowl in addition to AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills, Corbin Bowl in Tarzana and Winnetka Bowl.
As secretary at each of the centers, she diligently worked to expand membership. Granada Bowl was just one example. “Granada Bowl was a big center with 48 lanes,” Rogers recalled. ‘‘The league got so big, we had to cut it into two and call it ‘1A’ and ‘1B.’ ”
Among her bowling achievements, Rogers remembers, are a few 600 series along with a 250 game. But she downplayed her bowling achievements in relation to the social benefits of meeting so many people through the years. “
In the ‘Thirsty Nite League,’ so many of us have bowled together for so many years that each week it’s like meeting family,” said Rogers, tracking the league’s origins to the 1970s at Woodlake Lanes.
Rogers has gotten a firsthand look at the top Valley bowlers through the years. One who made an impression on her was Kelly Gold, who has bowled eight perfect games, including back-toback 300s.
“She was just a natural bowler,” Rogers said. “She came in as a brand-new bowler and in her first season, she was averaging 200. I had never seen that happen where someone could just walk in and do that.” Asked about her goals now, Rogers, a retired schoolteacher, cited one.
“As I was blowing out the candles,” Rogers said, “I wished for another 10 years [in bowling].”