Renfrew youth bowlers headed to provincial championships
A group of eight youth bowlers from Renfrew will be competing in the provincial championships May 1 in southwestern Ontario.
"It's an extraordinary thing for our league here," coach Kevin Jones says. "Usually we'll have maybe one or two go per year. To have four teams of two kids go is quite exceptional."
Asking around the Opeongo Bowlodrome in Renfrew about what has so many players rolling this year, all responses point to veteran coach and program director Ken Dick.
"The children listen, and they seem to listen to everything you tell them and that's why we're there and where we are today," Dick tells CTV News, when asked about the success behind the young Renfrew bowlers.
"You have to be on your game if you go to the provincials," Dick says. "When you go to the provincials it's another step higher."
One stand out bowler Dick will be looking for inspiration from is 17-year-old Ambrose Wattie, who says he has been bowling at the Renfrew lanes since the age of 3.
"I know quite a few people that go to these provincials because I've been doing it for a long time and I think we have a good chance," says Wattie, who says he bowls an average score of 240. A perfect game in five-pin bowling is 450.
Despite more popular sports like hockey, baseball, and soccer attracting a majority of the region's youth, Wattie says it is good coaching and camaraderie that has led to his seven teammates joining him at his second provincial championships.
"We don't have very many people in Renfrew so it's a like a little family here every Saturday morning, and we just come in, we have fun, learn new things, and cheer for each other."
Joining Wattie competing in the senior boys division is 14-year-old Carter Hamilton. At the junior boys level, brother Kingston and Liam Kelly, 13 and 15 respectively, are also set to travel to southwestern Ontario for the tournament.
Chase Machan, 11, and AJ McCoshen, 9, will be representing Renfrew in the bantam boys division, also with 10-year-old Sadie Brydges and 9-year-old Sawyer Jones in the bantam girls division.
"It's a sport that is just so good for kids to learn, and very competitive when you want to be," says Jones, "but it's also just a great way for kids to have fun."
Dick hopes the success of his young bowlers will soon lead to greater interest in the sport he has been coaching for 48 years.
"Seemingly next year if things go well we should pick up quite a few more bowlers from these children making it to the provincial finals."