DALLAS — Darrell Cooper quit bowling for a decade following a shoulder injury that affected his ability to play one of his favorite sports.
Two years ago, he picked up a bowling ball again — at Starlite Lanes in Dallas. Bowling, like riding a bike, is not something you forget how to do, he said. Before his injury, he was a lifelong bowler.
“Pretty much since I was a little guy,” Cooper said while sitting at a table overlooking the lanes at Starlite. “I just enjoy the game. I’ve always been active in sports. I don’t know about me playing football so much anymore, but I can still bowl.”
In late July, Cooper took his bowling hobby to a new level: He brought Starlite Lanes from former owner Loren Faxon.
Cooper said he found out the bowling alley was for sale after he started to play again two years ago, and decided to give a shot. He’s taken some time off work at his full-time construction job to clean up Starlite and complete repairs.
“We’ve been slowly revamping it, making sure everything works right and is in good shape,” Cooper said.
Cooper repaired the ball returns, cleaned up the restaurant/pool table area and added a full bar. Next on his to-do list is refreshing the outside with new paint and siding, and repair where needed.
He’s also put some energy into rebuilding the bowling alley’s leagues.
“Until we get them filled, we won’t quit,” Cooper said.
A few weeks ago, one of Cooper’s new recruits, Luke Mann, bowled a milestone: 300.
Mann has been part of the bowling alley junior league and on the high school team.
“I talked him into bowling his first adult league and in the second week, he bowled a set of 300,” Cooper said. “Same night I shot a 298. I just missed mine.”
Cooper doesn’t mind — too much. He has plenty of opportunity now that he’s bowling several times a week again.
“I’ve shot several of them, but not in this house,” he said. “It’ll come. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Bowling’s busiest season, winter, is approaching fast, and Cooper wants to see the lanes and the leagues full. He’s helping coach the high school team, and wants to bring in more teens to play.
“I would like to get Central involved,” he said. “Even if they have to call each other their own high school (team), I don’t care. The more kids, the merrier.”
He’s purchased his own karaoke machine for Friday nights and hosts Monte Carlo on Saturdays. Tuesdays and Sundays are open bowl for people who just want to give it a try without joining a league. Don’t be surprised if Cooper tries to talk you into playing on a league.
“We are trying to bring back all the leagues and get everybody involved and give everybody a chance to have fun,” Cooper said. “It’s fun. I’ve got a lot of people on bowling, and they really like it now. If anybody needs lessons, if I’m available in the evenings, I give free lessons. I’ve taught several people how to bowl in the last six weeks.”