Oxford’s bowling coach Claude (J.R.) Lafnear is one of the newest inductees into the Michigan High School Interscholastic Bowling Coaches Association’s (MHSIBCA) Hall of Fame, following an April 30 banquet.
He was one of six coaches, proprietors and athletic directors inducted at the Century Banquet Center in Sterling Heights that day.
Lafnear, an Oxford resident, helped launch OHS’ bowling programs in 2005 and has been a steady influence for the boys and girls teams ever since.
Oxford’s bowling program was accepted as a varsity sport in year two after its inception.
Lafnear has been bowling in Oxford and beyond for around 50 years. Individually, he’s scored three 300 games to date.
His coaching skills have helped guide 15 Wildcat bowlers to the individual state finals and 11 teams to states. The team has had four different bowlers score 300 games and has produced three all-staters, along with many academic all-staters.
Since 2005, the Wildcats bowling teams have earned seven conference titles and have been state finalists and semi-finalists, won three regional titles and a county title.
Lafnear was humbled to hear about his induction.
He also credited the help of assistant coaches Steve Burgess, Fred Heichel, Gordon Biskner and Chris Pappas.
“I’ve had these guys supporting me throughout the entire time we’ve had the program. We’ve all worked together and coached together. It’s really the support of Collier Lanes and the people there, support from the school and the community that’s made it happen. I just happen to be the guy that was singled out as the coach. The bottom line is I truly believe it’s a team award,” said Lafnear.
According to Lafnear, his next goal for the Wildcat bowling teams is to secure a state title—a goal he feels the Cats are more than capabable of achieving.
“The immediate future is very bright. We have a strong team on both the boys and girls side.We have been a semi-finalist with the boys in 2015 and then a finalist with the girls in 2017 so we’re right on the edge… As far as for the program, that’s really where we’re going. We’re now shooting and we feel like we’re capable of winning a state title. We also want to continue to build a strong program that’s competitive and reinforce the kids to be good sports and to treat your opponent with respect.”