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Local youth bowling has resurgence

Let the Comeback Begin…

One of the most classic sports is making a comeback in the local area. Unlike the mainline sports of football, baseball, and basketball, bowling has been overlooked throughout the years. However, its ebbs and flows of popularity have not waned with true fans and some of these bowlers are pushing a rebirth of the sport.

Over the past few years, local youth bowling programs have been developing throughout Centre and Mifflin Counties and becoming involved at the High School Club level. The Saturday Morning Youth Bowling program at Northland Bowl has that goal in mind as well, with a focus on not only competition, but with the development of scholarship programs and the community in general.

The program has been in existence for as long as anyone can remember, but recently it has tripled in size as the group teaches young bowlers the etiquette and techniques of today’s successful bowlers. The group has developed a relationship with the Penn State Bowling team to help promote bowling into the collegiate level and has sponsored instruction sessions with local bowling professionals. It has worked with the adult leagues at Northland to create the Springer scholarship program for the youth bowlers as well. For young bowlers and parents, it has been a refreshing change to other sports programs.

“In today’s era with concussions and that sort of thing, this is a nice life-long sport,” parent and avid program promoter, Ron Leynes said. “They can still get the kids out there doing something and having fun.”

One of the emphases the group promotes is that bowling is more than throwing the ball down the lane. The sport is not just your grandfather’s game anymore as technologies and methodologies have changed mainstream bowling. Bowling equipment technology offers more individualization than golf equipment and techniques for bowling have changed dramatically. Arguably the best bowler in the world, Jason Belmonte, throws the ball with 2 hands! Very few programs offer instruction for this technique but Clark Green, an instructor for the program, and several Penn State bowlers help . Lane conditions are also a big part of the game as well and they work with bowlers there too. The program at Northland offers free instruction every Saturday morning at 8am to the youth bowlers that want to take advantage of the help.

The instruction and competition have led to accomplishment too. Several youth bowlers have received college scholarships for their efforts both within the league and in regional youth tournaments. Jared Houser, a Senior at State High, has accrued more than $2000 in college scholarship money. That bodes well from a financial standpoint, but it also helps his aspiration of playing college baseball too. “College coaches want kids that have played in multiple sports,” says Mark “Bow” Bowman, Northland Bowl’s Youth Coordinator. “This program encourages the ability to do that. We allow kids to make up league matches if another sport or family function or community engagement interferes.”

In the end, and most importantly, the program has been committed to the youth bowlers and how they can use bowling to become better people as well as to learn how to succeed. Each year the youth program hosts a “Toys for Tots” bowling tournament where the entrance fee includes a toy for the charity. It’s just one way of showing the kids how to give back to their communities. The children, and parents for that matter, do a wonderful job. Bowman adds, “There’s more to life than bowling, but I will also say that I know a lot of good people who have spent a lot of time in a bowling alley. It’s why we are all here.”

The group is always looking for new bowlers from ages 5 to 21, and welcomes all newbies with open arms. If interested, contact Northland Bowl at 814-237-1500 or you can email Bow at bow@northlandbowl.com. Or just show up Saturday Mornings at 8:30 and someone will get you started in a game that is easy to fall in love with both competitively and for just fun.


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