Featured Students   |   News

The kingpin of candlepin

Rob Taylor

Rob Taylor was knocking down plastic bowling pins with plastic bowling balls before he was old enough to say “7–10 split.”

His par­ents bought him a toy bowling set prior to his second birthday and he joined a Sat­urday morning can­dlepin league a couple of years later. “It was the high­light of my week and big part of my social life through high school,” Taylor said.

Now a fourth-​​year com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies major at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, Taylor has chan­neled his pas­sion for bowling into a gig as editor, pro­ducer and com­men­tator for the web series turned TV show Can­dlepin For Kids. The pro­gram is set to debut on NESN on Sat­urday at 11:30 a.m., and the Inter­na­tional Can­dlepin Bowling Asso­ci­a­tion has agreed to sponsor six more episodes of the series, which will air next spring.

Taylor worked with IDEA, Northeastern’s student-​​run ven­ture accel­er­ator, to create a pro­duc­tion com­pany for the pro­gram, which he dubbed Hol­iday Turtle Pro­duc­tions in honor of his late cousin, and has asked the group for gap funding for recording and editing equipment.

“Because we have big aspi­ra­tions for fundraising, we needed our orga­ni­za­tion to be taken seri­ously,” Taylor said of his deci­sion to seek outIDEA. “I had no clue where to start and they were a gigantic help.”

He noted that his co-​​op expe­ri­ence as a pro­duc­tion assis­tant for Cox Sports in Rhode Island and his role as vice pres­i­dent of NUTV have pre­pared him for the new gig. “I have had a chance to apply my skills from co-​​op to the show and the quality of the pro­gram has con­tinued to increase since I started working on it three years ago,” Taylor said.

Can­dlepin bowling was cre­ated in 1880 in Worcester, Mass., by a local bowling center owner and has become a tra­di­tion in both the New Eng­land states and the Cana­dian Mar­itime provinces. But the game is unknown throughout the rest of the world.

Taylor, a Haver­hill, Mass., native with an average can­dlepin score of 116 and a high of 171, attrib­utes the game’s poor vis­i­bility to a lack of inno­va­tion in the Internet age. “The bowling cen­ters that have kept up with the times double as arcades and bars,” he explained, “but most don’t even have Face­book groups or websites.”

He also noted the level of dif­fi­culty inherent in can­dlepin com­pared to ten­pins. The pins are thinner and more dif­fi­cult to knock down, for example, and the balls are sig­nif­i­cantly smaller and do not have holes in which to put your fin­gers.  “The scores are a lot higher in ten­pins, which could be the dom­i­nating factor in why the game hasn’t spread,” Taylor explained.

So, then, what’s the trick to impressing your friends or sig­nif­i­cant other on the can­dlepin lanes? According to Northeastern’s res­i­dent bowling expert, all you have to do is per­fect your accu­racy. “It doesn’t matter how hard you throw the ball,” Taylor said, “but if you hit pins you’re going to be in good shape.”