Sunday, July 18, 2004

Bowling for scholars: School clubs on a roll

Next step: Getting Ky. High School Athletic Association to recognize it as a letter sport

By P.G. Sittenfeld
Enquirer contributor

Drew Futscher, 17, bowls for the Bishop Brossart High School club team at Southern Lanes in Alexandria.
Could there come a day when the star jock on a high school campus is not the quarterback of the football team, but instead the captain of the bowling squad?

The likelihood is at least as good as bowling a perfect game - slim, but not impossible.

First, however, bowling, which is a club sport, needs to become a varsity letter sport recognized by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

"Bowling is a sport for everyone," said Drew Futscher, a senior at Bishop Brossart who will be the captain of the school's club bowling team next year. "It can be relaxing or competitive, and it's just fun."

8 local club teams

At present, 11 interscholastic sports are recognized by the KHSAA.

For bowling to be added to the list, 57 of the 283 KHSAA member schools, or 20 percent, must field teams and participate in a state bowling tournament.

Of 20 club bowling teams throughout the state, eight are in Northern Kentucky. These include both boys and girls teams at Bishop Brossart, Campbell County, Dayton, Highlands, Holy Cross, Newport Catholic, and St. Henry, along with a girls team at Notre Dame and a boys team at Calvary Christian.

Legitimize championship

Leading the effort to grow the sport at the high school level is Glenn Schmidt.

He's the owner of Laru Lanes in Alexandria and director of Northern Kentucky High School Bowling. "I do everything I can to stimulate interest in the sport," he said, adding that he schedules games, keeps track of stats, holds an "all-star" banquet at the end of the season, and helps to organize a championship tournament for all of the club teams in the state.

Troy Styer, who coached the Campbell County High School boys team to victory in the club championship last winter, said KHSAA sponsorship would "legitimize the championship more for people on the outside looking in, and lend credence to bowling as a real sport."

Julian Tackett, a KHSAA official, said that bowling is "coming on fast," largely because several national bowling groups are underwriting high school bowling start-up costs.

In several states, including Tennessee, bowling is already a state-sponsored sport.

Nationally, 55 million people bowled in 2003, making it the single most popular participatory sport in the country, according to the Professional Bowling Association.

All of these strikes, spares, and gutter balls have people like Schmidt smiling.

He happily recalls that when Laru Lanes hosted the Northern Kentucky High School Bowling championships. "The place was absolutely packed and buzzing with excitement."

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