Ely Times Staff Writer
Bill Noah had bowling in his blood.
“I’ve been in the bowling business on and off almost all my life, since I was about 6 years old,” Noah said.
Growing up in Reno, his father was the Vice President of AMF Bowling and owned the local Reno Bowl. Though he grew up bowling in leagues, he didn’t see a future in it. He worked through the casinos in Reno, eventually becoming the cashier manager at Harrah’s. He had been away from the sport for a few years, but just like when he was a kid, his father pulled him back in.
“I had gotten out of the bowling business. My dad called me up and said ‘Are you interested in getting back in the bowling business?’ and I said I didn’t know,” Noah said. “He said I’ve found this bowling alley and I think you should buy it. When he told me it was in Ely I said ‘Where’s Ely?”
Noah followed his father’s advice and left his job at Harrah’s and moved to the little town he had never heard of. That was in 1979. Noah purchased the Sunset Lanes on Aultman Street and has stuck with it now for 45 years. In that time he said he has seen the lanes change from “overlane” where the ball would roll above the lane back to the players to the underground systems used today. He’s watched as scores went from keeping track by hand to computers. But one thing hasn’t changed in all that time.
“It’s like a home,” he said.
Noah said his passion is teaching younger generations how to play the game. He said he has watched how young people have played less and less with “increased distractions” like video games, but there’s no substitute for the fun, social atmosphere of going out to bowl together with family or friends.
“I love to teach, that is my favorite thing,” Noah said. “I’m instructing kids now that I instructed their parents.”
He admits he doesn’t have as much time to teach as he would like since he also holds down a full-time job at the prison. Even still, he said anyone that wants to set up a lesson is more than welcome to do so, they just need to make an appointment.
Now bowling in two leagues, once a week, Noah admits he’s not as good as he used to be. In his day he scored two 300s, also known as perfect games. His league team plans on traveling to Reno this year to compete in nationals.
“When you go to something like that it’s like a vacation, if you happen to bowl well, that’s even better,” Noah said.
Sunset Lanes hosts sanctioned leagues every Friday night. Memberships costs $16 a week. Cosmic Bowling is also offered on weekends and Noah said he always welcomes birthday parties.