By Dale Cory
The fact it was Remembrance Day was not going to stop a group of talented bowlers from a practice session at Ponoka’s Leisure Lanes.
They are bowlers on a mission.
The six players and two coaches throwing bowls on Nov. 11 are attempting to get in as many practice sessions as they can prior to taking part in the YBC 6 Player Combo Team North Provincials, which will be a pins over average tournament.
Senior bowlers Kaitlin Berg and Michael Yousph, junior bowlers Layne Groot and Hailey Boser, and bantam bowlers Cameron McLeod and Cody Lloyd, along with coaches Linda Seitz and Eric Andersen, will take part in the event, set for St. Albert Nov. 21.
The six players are part of Youth Bowling Canada, a league better known as YBC, and an area of bowling that is growing.
“We’re sitting at about 75 kids in the YBC league, which is up at least 10 from last year,” says Gay Taylor, owner of Leisure Lanes. “We start at age three, and go up to age 19. We have masters who work with the kids in all leagues. If some kids just want to bowl, we let them bowl. When they’re ready to improve their game, we’re willing to work with them. And, we’ve had some kids graduate from YBC and come back as adult bowlers.”
Instruction comes from Andersen, who started coaching in 1998, and from Seitz, who started coaching in 1996. Both have been to nationals as coaches and as participants.
“Even though our children are grown adults, we continue to coach the young bowlers because we love the game and seeing the excitement when they do well,” said Seitz. “It is a sport we can both participate in and coach in together.”
Instruction from Seitz and Andersen is based on two key elements, enjoyment when participating, and improving skill level — tips bowlers of any age should heed.
“First, we’re trying to instill into the kids the enjoyment of the game. Secondly, we focus on the proper form of throwing the ball. The arrows on the approach are lined up with the pins at the end. So, we’re trying to teach them to look at the arrows — not the pins — because the arrows are 15 feet away, compared to the pins, which are 60 feet away. It’s easier to focus at the closer arrow, than the distant pins. And, there’s the one-two-three step approach, so we’re showing the kids how to get their arms and legs moving together,” says Seitz, who also focuses her coaching on the mental aspect of the game. “If the kids are feeling frustrated, I always tell them to pick up the ball, get to the spot you want to start at, take in a deep breath, let it out, and clear your mind. The ball will go there — you just have to get it there. Let the ball do the work.”
Bowling mirrors any other sport kids play from the standpoint you have to work at it to achieve successful results.
Berg knows all about that first-hand. She has been bowling for more than six years, and, with an average score of 177, is Ponoka’s top YBC bowler.
“I just enjoy bowling. It’s fun and a good way to meet people,” says Berg, 16, and a Grade 10 student at Ponoka Composite High School who insists she has garnered a great deal of information from Seitz and Andersen. “I’ve learned to keep my arms straight for balance, and to keep a solid pace, and not go too fast or too slow. The arrows make it easier to aim at the pins — without looking at the pins. I used to look at the pins, which was difficult.”
Berg, whose top game was 285, remembers the first time she entered the bowling alley. Although it was her mom’s idea at the time, Berg acknowledges she is glad she got into the YBC league.
Yousph has a 171 bowling average. When asked what he likes about bowling, the answer came quickly.
“Getting strikes. I also like going to tournaments,” responded the 17-year-old Grade 12 student at PCHS who has learned a lot about the sport from Andersen and Seitz. “I’ve learned to go slower, and take my time.”
As for Ponoka’s other bowlers who will take part in the North Provincials, McLeod takes an average of 49, and Lloyd takes an average of 98 into bantam boys competition, Groot takes a 113 average into junior boys competitions, while Boser takes a 101 average into bantam girls competition.
YBC bowling… Leagues operate at Leisure Lanes Monday and Wednesday at 3:50 p.m., Saturday at 10 a.m., and Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
Call Leisure Lanes at: 403-783-4515 for further information.