Young bowlers rewarded
Danielle Roeber, Kitchell Garey and Austin Geller, each from Janesville, and Zachary Wallace of Juda bring bowling the luster it needs if it is going to remain a key recreational sport.
“I believe our youth bowling program is one of the best,” said Bonnie Decker, a longtime Janesville youth bowling coach and advisor. “I might be prejudice, but there are a lot of parents involved with the kids.
“Sometimes you feel like a babysitter. But on the whole, we have a lot of parents that volunteer.’’
Youth leagues director Bonnie Jones of RiversEdge said bowling has lost some momentum to the growth of other sports.
“The numbers are not as great,” Jones said. “When my children started, soccer was in its infancy. Either you played basketball or football, and a that was it.”
Jones said the biggest change is bowling has become a club sport at the high schools.
“We have high school club bowling,” Jones said. “Because bowling is recognized in schools, kids treat it as important, and that helps us out.’’
The bowling scholarship was started nearly 35 years ago though the efforts of the Janesville men’s and women’s bowling associations. After the two associations merged, the scholarship was renamed for Kettle and Carlson.
“You have to have decent grades and just be a good bowler. You have show leadership in the community,” said Decker, who added that the scholarship criteria are set so they won’t favor anyone.
This year’s winners strive to bowl well, but a key reason they bowl is for the friendships they make and the good times they share.
“I don’t really don’t know how I picked (bowling),’’ said Geller. “It was something to do in the winter. But once I started, I just didn’t want to stop (because) I made some good friends.’’
Geller is a Janesville Craig High School senior. He is a member of the Cougars’ baseball team and plans to play baseball for Edgewood College in Madison next year.
Geller followed his father and his grandmother, Val Geller, to the bowling lanes and enjoyed the action.
“My dad used to be a big bowler, and my grandmother bowled a lot, and they got me started,” Geller said.
Geller lamented that he did not bowl well in the youth leagues this season, but he intends to make up for it.
“I want to continue Saturday bowling,” Geller said. “I hope I have time to fit it in. I can continue as long as I don’t join an adult league.’’
While Geller wants to return to the youth leagues, Roeber, a Janesville Parker senior, is planning compete for the UW-Whitewater club team. She will major in finance at Whitewater.
Roeber finished her senior season with a bang, taking fourth in singles at the state high school bowling tournament.
“I’ve been focused on bowling more than before,” said Roeber, who marked a 740 series this season.
Like Geller, Roeber said she began bowling because she wanted something to do.
“I’ve always liked it,” Roeber said. “It was something to do, and I got good at it.’’
Wallace is Juda High School’s 2010 valedictorian, keeping a 4.0 grade-point average from his freshman year. He will major in pharmacy at Cederville University in Cedarville, Ohio.
Wallace started bowling his freshman year. He rolled a 554 this season for his career-high series.
“I was in a league with my friends, and we grew together,” said Wallace, who started with a 100 average and built it to a 155.
“I started out like anyone without a coach,” Wallace said. “As I got used to it, I improved.’’
Garey said he is an average bowler who enjoys the company of his friends.
Teammates Matt Gutzman, Adam Williams and Ryne Clatworthy make getting to the lanes at 8 a.m. on Saturday worth the effort, Garey said.
“I liked bowling because of my teammates,” said Garey, a senior, who plays tennis for Janesville Parker and will attend UW-Rock County next fall. “We have a great time and enjoy a lot of laughs.’’
Good times and good kids brought together by a good sport.