Center Grove High School students find talent to spare through school’s new bowling team
By Sherri Coner
When Center Grove sophomore Olivia Williams, 16, was younger, she loved gymnastics.
“But then I got called fat by one of the gymnastics coaches,” Williams said with a shrug. “I was 10 years old.”
Deeply hurt and humiliated by that experience, she quit gymnastics and spent the next six years refusing to participate in sports.
When Williams learned a few months ago that Jeremy and Jessica Warren, the parents of a freshman, were starting a Center Grove High School bowling team, she bravely signed up and has never regretted that decision.
A couple of years ago when the Warrens took up bowling as a family activity, their only child Jameson Warren, 14, surprised them with her immediate interest in this sport.
As more time went by, Jameson, an artsy, rather quiet girl, showed that she had zero interest in any other sport.
Since her parents hoped for her to participate in some kind of school-related sport and because a bowling team wasn’t offered by the school, the Warrens stepped up to change that.
“Our daughter loves bowling,” Jeremy said. “Jameson takes it very seriously.”
“I’m really competitive,” Jameson said with a slight smile.
What exactly does this quiet freshman like about this sport?
“You can bowl anytime. You don’t have to get a team together,” Jameson said. “You can practice on your own.”
According to Jessica Warren, she and Jeremy approached the idea with an “If you build it, they will come” attitude.
And it worked.
Getting the ball rolling
With a total of 13 students participating this first year, the Warrens were thrilled to have enough kids for two teams, one for each gender.
Since McKenna Coy comes from a family of serious bowling enthusiasts, her mom, Heather Crawford, volunteered to help coach the team.
Matching shirts were ordered with players’ last names on the back. Everybody agreed on black pants. Practice dates were set, and Center Grove suddenly had bowling teams with very dedicated members.
A lot of parents aren’t aware that bowling offers scholarship possibilities, Jeremy said.
For example, even as a freshman, Jameson has been awarded scholarship dollars.
High scoring senior for the girls team, McKenna Coy, 17, and fellow senior and highest scoring member of the guys’ team, Ashton Herman, 17, have also won scholarship money through bowling.
Like Coy, Herman said he grew up in a bowling family.
Though his parents continue to bowl in leagues, he is the only offspring still bowling.
His brothers aren’t interested anymore.
Having fun in their ‘spare’ time
After rather effortlessly rolling a strike, Herman said, “It’s fun. There’s also a lot of good people in bowling.”
Novice bowlers might assume it’s only about keeping the ball out of the gutter and trying your best to knock over at least a few pins.
But that’s definitely not all there is to bowling, Herman said with a smirk.
“It’s hard to get good at this. You need oil pattern knowledge. You need to know what the bowling balls will do on there,” he said “It’s very easy to give up. You have a lot of bad games before you get to the good.”
Two years ago, Keegan Flachman, 17, started bowling with his grandpa, Mike Hileman of Peru, Ind.
But Grandpa making that one-hour drive just to go bowling with his grandson paid off.
This year Flachman is a member of a bowling team for the first time.
These days, Grandpa makes the drive from Peru to watch the matches.
“It’s very rewarding when you get consistent at bowling,” Flachman said with a smile. “It’s all about consistency.”
Like Flachman, junior Tristan Felke, 17, was also introduced to bowling by a family member.
His stepdad Gary Heady is an avid bowler who was so excited that Felke took an interest in the sport he loves that Heady made an immediate investment.
“He bought me my own ball,” Felke proudly said with a broad grin. “This is a sport that I only depend on myself. I’m not exactly the best team player.”
The new ‘skid’ on the block
Moving from Florida to Indiana and enrolling as a freshman in a school where she didn’t know anyone has been a huge challenge for 14-year-old Haley Sandefur.
However, joining the bowling team helps her socially connect while she also learns a new sport.
“It has helped me socialize more,” Sandefur said of the two-day weekly school practices, weekly matches and practice times outside of school with other team members.
“My best friend on the team is Jameson,” Sandefur added with a smile.
New to bowling, Elijah Hanshaw, 17, is not only happy to socialize but to also celebrate his improvement.
“I used to get somewhere in the double digits,” he said of his score. “Now I’m getting high 90s and low 100s. My best score so far is that I bowled a 156.”
Elijah’s twin brother Blake also joined the team and has a goal to someday bowl as well as Ashton Herman, the highest scoring member of the guys’ team.
On weekends, the twins often practice together and sometimes also meet up with other members
“I’m working very hard to get myself better at this,” Blake said rather sheepishly. “But bowling has also been a ton of fun for me.”
He has never participated before in a school-affiliated sport, Blake said.
Being on this team with others who compete against him but always support him is a definite win. “Having a sport makes life better,” he said with a smile.