by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – Mike and Sami Rice celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary at Winnetka Bowl last week, doing what they’ve been doing every Tuesday night – serving as league secretaries for the “Guys and Dolls” league.
The reports are untrue that the San Fernando Valley couple has worked as “Guys and Dolls” coordinators for nearly that long.
It just seems that way.
Mike and Sami have now served for 20 years as coordinators for the “Guys and Dolls” league, which has its roots in now-defunct AMF Rocket Bowl in Chatsworth. The league moved to AMF Woodlake Lanes after Rocket Bowl closed in 2009 and is now in its third season at Winnetka Bowl.
“We love being with Guys and Dolls,” Sami says.
What makes her job so special, Sami says, is “the people – being able to talk to them and make them happy, or at least trying to make them happy. That’s why I took the job in the first place.”
Longtime “Guys and Dolls” bowler Carol Tucker says she always feels at home in the league and credits the Rices. “Mike and Sami demonstrate every week that they care about the bowlers,” she said.
“They work very hard making sure the bowlers’ problems are solved and that the bowlers are happy participating in the ‘Guys and Dolls’ league. We are very lucky to have them as our leaders.”
Mike and Sami have been fixtures on the league bowling scene both as bowlers and administrators.
Sami, who formerly averaged in the 130s, has retired from bowling. But Mike remains a right-handed ace with a 177 average. He enjoyed the game of his life in 2012 at age 64 when he struck on his first 10 shots before finishing with a flashy 288.
But it’s as league secretaries where the two have made their bowling mark. They built up the “Guys and Dolls” league to a powerful 27 teams at Rocket Bowl and have kept the league strong through the transition to Winnetka Bowl.
As for being married 48 years, Sami says it hasn’t come easy. “You have to work at it every day,” says Sami, who married her husband less than three months after meeting him. “You have to respect each other every day and you have to be considerate every day “We don’t give up when we’re fighting. He puts up with my garbage and I put up with his garbage. Marriage is 50-50. It’s not one-sided. You always have to come up with a compromise that’s considerate to each other’s feelings.”
Mike and Sami’s daughter, Stephanie, came to Winnetka Bowl to join the anniversary celebration. Asked about the longevity of Mike and Sami’s marriage, Stephanie joked, “It really makes me feel old.” Mike was contacted first for this story, but he passed the phone to his wife after expressing disbelief that he and his wife deserved to be the focus of a story. “We’re just quiet people – at least I am,” he said, laughing. One final question for Sami: Would she and Mike stick around as “Guys and Dolls” league secretaries for another 20 years? “I hope so,” she said.