The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News March 3, 2006

Off the Cuff: Tom Reid

Tom Reid, OC ’80, manages the College Lanes as well as the Cat in the Cream, and teaches bowling. This puts him in the ideal position to view Obies at three of their favorite activities: art, play and non-traditional study. The Review sat down with Reid to discuss how the college community has changed and the role he plays in it.

So Tom, you graduated Oberlin College in 1980. What made you want to come back here to work at the Cat and College Lanes?
Well, the College thought I would give them a bad name if I’d gone out into the real world, so they wanted to keep me here. No, actually, Oberlin is the only college I applied to and I was hoping I wouldn’t get in because I just wanted to bowl. But then I got in and my parents made me come here. When I finished I went home to look for a job, and I couldn’t find one, so I came back and this job opened up.

What changes have you seen in the student body, and the school in general, since you were a student here?
I’ve been hearing for 2-5 years that the student body is getting more conservative. But by spring, I think they all just look like Obies. They might be more engaged in the wider community here in Oberlin and more active in organizations on campus [now]. The Big Parade is the coolest program in all of Oberlin College, and they have some pretty cool programs.

What do you like about teaching bowling?
The best way to learn something is to teach it. It’s satisfying to have some role in someone discovering something cool and improving their self-esteem. The saying goes, those who can’t do, teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym.

How did your job end up combining bowling with managing student performances?
It wasn’t intentional. There used to be a dance studio where the Cat is now. But when the old Cat shut down they moved it here. The Cat is really the coolest building on campus, with the jazz and steel drums, aikido club, pool, bowling. It’s a wonderful example of cooperation between different parts of the college.

What would you change about the Cat or the bowling alley?
If I could only change one thing it would be to install new pinsetters. They’re really neat machines, but they were installed in 1963 and are now way off the manufacturing standard.

What’s your favorite type of performance that happens at the Cat?
I really like almost everything that happens here. I would have to say that my favorite is the bluegrass bands. Another thing that’s really cool is the semi-improvised comedy. I’ve been asked to make a couple cameo appearances in a semi-improvised teen drama. It’s really rewarding to be accepted by a group of students that doesn’t have anything to do with bowling and that I’m not in charge of. Actually, I play the principal, so I have to pretend to be in charge. It’s been really cool.


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