In checking out the winter sports tab this week, I recognized several faces from area basketball teams. The names of a few wrestlers rang a bell. The bowlers though?
Household names were not exactly forthcoming.
Isn't that the way it always is? We bowlers seem to toil in obscurity. Never enough credit. Practice, practice, practice and nobody seems to care.
All right I am being a bit melodramatic. The fact is that bowling as a high school sport is only a decade old. Some schools have club teams; others have no bowling team at all. That could change however as the sport grows in popularity among the younger generation.
Someone asked me if I would have been on a bowling team had it been a high school sport way back when I was a teenager. The simple answer is no, and that's because of two factors.
First, I had very little knowledge of bowling when I was a kid. The only thing I knew for sure was that my parents bowled in a Sunday night league and that meant three things. My brother and I were going to get ice cream (you knew food would be involved); we were going to move the living room furniture so we could play football and my sister (presumably fearing for her safety) would go nowhere near our playing field.
Second, I played basketball. Unless the schedule could be arranged so I could do both (I did play baseball and run track in the spring), basketball would have been my choice.
For many students today, bowling is a viable option and as I read the information about the local bowling teams a few thoughts formed in my head. One was the fact that virtually anyone can participate on a bowling team. You do not have to be tall, quick or have great leaping ability that may be required in other sports. One can even eat pizza while they participate. How cool is that?
That's one of the things I like about the sport of bowling. It may attract young people that may not otherwise compete in athletics. There are so many life values that can be learned from playing sports. One of those values would be the importance of teamwork, and bowling has a very unique method of emphasizing that value.
Part of a high school match involves bowling games in the Baker format. This occurs when a team's five bowlers combine to bowl a single game. Each bowler will get two frames with the anchor bowler shooting in the fifth and tenth frames. In how many sports does an athlete get just two chances to perform in an entire game? Miss a couple of shots in a basketball game and a third will still likely be forthcoming. Run the football twice, get tackled for losses both times and then simply wait for your next opportunity. Not the case in Baker. Two frames. Don't mess it up.
One other thing jumped out at me as I perused the tab. Fostoria, Lakota and New Riegel have both boys and girls bowling teams. That would be six total teams. How many coaches for those teams? Try one.
I'm telling you the truth. Herb Thibodeau is the proprietor of Seneca Lanes and he is THE coach for all six teams. Now that has to be something you will not find in any other sport, but it does beg one question. What does Mr. Thibodeau do when the three schools compete in a tri-match against each other?
Why he'll coach them all and root for all of them, that's what.
Herb Thibodeau is a great guy. He knows as much about bowling as anyone I've ever met. If the kids listen, he will make them better bowlers. If they watch and emulate him he will also make them better persons.
Good luck to all the area high school bowlers as bowling season kicks off.
Rich Yates, Sr. rolled games of 254-247-223 for a big 724 series to top the Sportsman League. Rich Yates, Jr. shot 656, Phil Neikirk 652, Chris Johnson 627, Jack Kramer 615, Ron Yentzer 614, Chris Peck 602 and Greg Tiell 601. In the Rocket League Tyson Shope shot 698, Martin Klingshirn 624, Shawn Coppus 615, Steve Barnes 608, Jerry Swander 606, Dottie Funk 439 and Sue Coppus 416.
In the 55 Plus League at the K of C Lanes, Dick Gabel had 565, Paul Gosche 546, Bob Reinhart 523, Jim Ruess 497, Jim Ferstler 474 and Steve Schafer 463.
Al Stephenson is The A-T's bowling columnist.
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