With the winter league season in full swing, I have noticed some big differences from past seasons.
With both of my kids bowling youth league this year, the first season for my son, who is 5, and the second season for my 10-year-old daughter, I find myself in there on Saturday mornings a lot more than I have in the past.
There had been a slight decline in the number of youth league bowlers over the years but this season seems to be the turn around that was needed.
With more bowlers than in the past, and a lot of new faces, it has brought back the competitive element that has been missing from the local youth program since I was a kid.
I can still recall coming in for league on Saturday mornings and the center being full. We had at least 10 teams of four to a team rolling each week and were extremely competitive.
We found ourselves attending and placing in various tournaments throughout the season also.
With this new found interest in the youth league, I am hoping to see that competitive nature come out in this new class of bowlers.
I have talked to Mike Hawkins, long time coach and manager of the Albemarle Lanes USBC Youth program, and he, too, is very excited.
In store for this season, once again, is the annual Pepsi Bowling Championships. This tournament is a national event that begins in the local centers. Certain weeks during league play are designated as qualifying weeks.
During these weeks, the bowler’s score is also used as qualifying scores against the other bowlers in the league, with a set ratio of male and female bowlers moving on to the regional competition.
This is a big deal for youth bowlers, and I still remember the years that I made the cut and went on to regional play.
Once moving on to regional play, the bowler will compete in set age and gender categories, with a set ratio of the bowlers moving on to state competition.
At the state level, the winner moves on to the nationals. At everything from the regional and up, scholarship money is awarded to bowlers that move on to the next level.
On top of this tournament, the local center will be having parties for the kids on various weeks, coaching throughout the year, special local tournaments, and a banquet at season’s end, which will include trophies for top finishers, individual awards, and personal recognition from throughout the season.
On top of this, the USBC still offers national awards that can be earned throughout the season for games and series’ bowled in various average categories.
If you are interested in signing up or getting your kids involved, the Albemarle Lanes Youth Program takes new bowlers throughout the season.
You do not need to have a whole team as the center will find a spot for your child to join an existing team.