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Day: November 22, 2011

Lady Celt bowling roster overflows

McNary High School girls bowling team captain LeAnne Miller prepares to roll a strike. She is backed up by teammates Tori Pike, Hope Placencio, Zoey Nelson, KayLynn Hatfield, Alexandria Kurovsky, Vanessa Garza, Kymmery Marsh, Ashley Mayne and Aura Andrade. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

While some may consider them “just a club,” the McNary High School girl’s bowling team has a rep to protect.

“We want to show people that we’re returning and we’re strong. Some people hate on us because we’re known, but it’s because we’re good,” said returning junior Vanessa Garza.

Last year, the team gained entry to the state tournament as a wild card and eked out a fifth place finish.

“We had some conflicts last year, but I think we have a stronger team and we can take the state title this year,” said junior LeAnne Miller.

The team had just enough members to participate in tournaments last year, but a 10-Celt turnout has its ranks overflowing this year.

“With that few we didn’t have anybody to rotate in or out. This year, a lot of people will get more time to play and we won’t get tired,” Miller said.

Coach Kathy Kaplan was elated to have so many enthusiastic participants turn out for practices this season, “It’s going to be a building year and a learning team, but it’s great to have so many brand new girls interested in bowling.”

The team competes in baker style bowling in which team members roll one ball and, if any pins are left standing, it’s up to a teammate to clean up the lane. Teams can play to their strengths as individual bowlers because they can rely on each other when they’re not rolling strikes on every ball.

“It’s about the team and it really depends on the mood of everyone and we feed off each other’s moods,” Miller said. “I would rather no one get down on themselves because of one bad ball because there’s others to recover you.”

While the tournaments have yet to start, senior Ashley Mayne was eager to see the team leave it all on the lane. “I’m excited to see how far we go and and to get everybody involved in the tournaments,” Mayne said.

Garza and Miller said the team still had lots of room for growth and that picking up spares will be a key to success.

“We need to be able to finish a frame well and not just have one good ball that each person can throw,” Garza said.

Bowling, after all, isn’t as easy as it looks, said Mayne, “You have to know your marks, bend your knees, set your feet and follow through.”

Obsession built new exhibit

John Hoppe mounts a ladder on top of a fire truck. The current exhibit at the Keizer Heritage Museum features Legos depicting fire service. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

Of the Keizertimes

As a young boy growing up in the Keizer area, nothing said Christmas to John Hoppe like a new box of Legos.

Now the 1991 McNary High alum is showing off a lifetime’s worth of custom-made Lego-built fire trucks, tanks and other apparatuses at the Keizer Heritage Museum.

He estimates he’s spent “easily $10,000” on a collection of Legos he estimates at anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 pieces.

“I think I remember getting my first set when I was, like, 3,” Hoppe said about his almost-obsession. It was a helicopter, made back before the Dutch company started making miniature people to go in their vehicles.

Hoppe describes himself as a hands-on kind of guy. He makes his living in a transmission shop, plays drums, coaches youth baseball and manages Keizer Little League’s equipment.

So it makes sense, then, that he’s not one to pick up a set of plans from a Lego box and follow them through to the end. In fact, it’s that flexibility that has made Legos so appealing, even as an adult.

“Legos are a little more interactive,” Hoppe said. “It was a lot different than just a model kit where you glue it together, that’s it, you’re done. I could build something and keep it together, or take it apart and build something else.”

That’s how he came up with his collection that’s showing now at the museum.

“They’re designed to look as realistic as you can get with Legos,” Hoppe said. (He attributes his fascination with fire trucks to the 1970s TV hit “Emergency!”)

But even stock parts sometimes aren’t enough to get what he wants.

“To make a certain tool I’ll take a battle axe, for example, out of the castle sets,” Hoppe said. “You can pare it down, and it looks like a pike pole off a fire truck. You can take the little hunting rifles, cut the rear stock off of it and modify the grip, and it looks like a forcible entry tool.”

Legos have become more than simply a toy – they’ve inspired books, movies, TV shows, board games and clothing. There’s five Legoland theme parks around the world. Lego stores at the nation’s largest shopping and entertainment attractions have massive dinosaurs, skyscrapers and more built entirely out of Lego bricks. A consulting service called Lego Serious Play uses playtime to teach communication and team building.

That means there’s an enthusiastic online community for selling the toys, which makes it possible for ambitious Lego architects like Hoppe to build custom pieces like fire trucks. He gets many of his pieces individually, as opposed to buying sets for a certain purpose, like a spaceship or castle.

“And if I need a whole bunch of plates or bricks, you can order them straight from Lego,” Hoppe said.

One reason he custom-builds is that, perhaps in an effort to remain accessible in the age of instant gratification, Lego kits have gotten easier to assemble.

That’s just not as fun, he said.

“When I was a kid and you bought a fire station, a spaceship or something of that nature you were looking at, easily, 300 to 800 pieces,” he said. “Now a lot of things are modular and easy to put together, and for me it kind takes some of the fun out of it.”

Getting Legos as gifts, however, has not lost its luster.

“I still get as giddy as I did when I was a kid and got Legos,” he said.

His two sons – 15-year-old Alex and 11-year-old Gabriel – have both taken on the hobby to an extent. Alex is almost as addicted as Dad, while Gabriel’s more focused on baseball.

He lives in north Salem.