By LEIGH PROM
While it was cold and wet outside last Sunday afternoon, it was warm and dry at the Rocky Mount Bowling Center where more than 40 youth took to the lanes for the 30th Annual Ann St. Hilaire Junior Bowling Traveling Scholarship Tournament.
The tournament started in the mid-1980s, in honor of Ann St. Hilaire for the hard work and dedication she put into youth bowling.
In addition to RMBC’s participation, other participating centers included Lee Hi Lanes in Salem, AMF Hilltop in Roanoke and Vinton Bowling Center in Vinton.
There were two age groups for youth bowlers: 12 and younger and 13-20. With 16 youth in the Rocky Mount youth bowling league, six of its members competed Sunday. Jacob Young placed second and Neveah Young placed fifth in the 12 and under category, while Jacob Burchett placed second in the 13-20 category. The youth bowl in pairs with the top five in each group going on for roll-off games to determine the top five places.
Going into the roll off, 12-year-old Jacob Young was the first seed.
Before bowling in the roll off, he said, “I hope to place first. Worst I could do would be second place. Either way, I’ll get scholarship money.”
More than 250 colleges throughout the nation offer scholarships in bowling. The opportunities for scholarships was a common theme at the tournament with kids and adults talking about winning scholarship money.
For Young’s efforts, $50 will be put into his Scholarship Management and Account Reporting for Tenpins account with the United States Bowling Congress to use when he goes to college. His roll off score was 190. Students can earn scholarship money throughout their bowling career, which is managed by a SMART account.
Jacob Young, who has been bowling for years, won his first tournament in Christiansburg when he was 8 years old. He said he spends a lot of time at the bowling alley because his mom, Tanya Young, is the manager of the bowling center, and his grandparents, Connie and Garrett Hodges, are the owners.
Troy Guilliams of Vinton was awarded first place with a score of 207. He will get $75 deposited into his SMART account.
Burchett, 14, was first seed going into the roll off. His roll off score was 214, and he added $50 to his SMART account.
In his first year of competitive bowling and first tournament, Vinton bowler Landon Caldwell, 14, bowled a 259 in his final game and earned $75 for his SMART account. “He [Landon] practices 20 to 30 games a week,” said Caldwell’s father, Tim. “He always wants to bowl.”
To make scores more equitable, a handicap is calculated for the bowlers. This helps a 6 year old compete against a 12 year old.
Burchett said he loves to bowl because it’s fun, and he gets to meet new people. He has traveled to Texas, Tennessee and South Carolina for national tournaments.
“In bowling, I don’t have to sit on the bench like what happens in other sports,” Burchett said.
Burchett’s mother, Sonya Bohon, said, “I am so impressed with the skills these kids are developing at this young of an age and their sportsmanship. They all cheer each other on, especially when a kid is hitting the strikes like Jacob did in the first game, but they will also encourage each other when one is not doing as well.”
Tressi and Terry Mitchell are the coaches for the youth league in Rocky Mount. “The kids have fun, learn some new bowling skills and maybe get college scholarship money,” Tressi Mitchell said.
To encourage more youth to participate in bowling, Bohon said Rocky Mount Bowling Center is looking for sponsors. Anyone interested in sponsoring a child should contact the center, which is at 1555 North Main St, by calling 483-8088.