Young bowlers on the rise

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Brayden Michaud received a special award for a game in which he scored more than 100 points higher than his average during the past season of the Youth Bowling Canada program.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Brayden Michaud received a special award for a game in which he scored more than 100 points higher than his average during the past season of the Youth Bowling Canada program.

Youth Bowling Canada (YBC) has wrapped up a successful season in Hay River.

The program for young bowlers from four to 19 years of age held its season-ending event on May 14 at Lizard’s Lounge & Lanes.

Pravina Bartlett, one of two coaches and program directors with Youth Bowling Canada in Hay River, described the season as a “huge success.”

The YBC season runs from September to the end of March.

This was the first season in which the program was run by Bartlett and Lillian Crook, the other coach and program director.

Part of the success was an increase in participation.

Bartlett said there were 37 young bowlers this season, compared to a dozen or so last year.

“We tripled the numbers from last year. It’s been amazing. Kids keep asking about joining even during the season,” she said.

As for why there has been such an increase in popularity, Bartlett offers a number of possible explanations.

“I think in general, it was just a different atmosphere, and more flexibility in the program, as well,” she said. “And we’ve just changed the way the league is run. With the kids, we’re turning it into more of a social event.”

There was also an effort to make it more fun, she said. “We have fun games for them. They get challenges. They get treats. It’s competitive. And it’s just a lot of camaraderie. And I think that’s what built the interest in it.”

Crook said there was a lot of promoting the YBC program.

Plus, they said the new management of Lizard’s Lounge & Lanes since last summer has also made a bit difference by helping to create a good atmosphere for families.

“So we can see it growing for next year, too,” said Crook.

She can remember a time when there were 50 to 60 young people in the YBC program in Hay River.

“So that’s where we’re pushing,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage them.”

Bartlett also said the bowling lanes have been renovated.

“It’s completely different from the way it was before,” she said. “And everybody likes having that flexibility and the friendliness, and they’re really happy being here.”

Aside from their roles with YBC in Hay River, Bartlett is the technical director, meaning she manages coaches, with the NWT Five-Pin Bowling Association, and Crook is the association’s tournament director.

There are just two bowling lanes in the NWT – the one in Hay River and another in Yellowknife.

At the annual banquet, each of the young bowlers received a plaque – on which was displayed the participant’s average, high game score and high double or high triple score for the season.

Crook said the young bowlers will have the plaques next season so they can see how their averages and high scores improve.

“So every year they’re going to get this little achievement plaque,” she said.

Three bowlers also got special awards for each bowling a game this past season that was 100 points above their averages.

Ethan Bowker had a 173 average but bowled a high game of 317. Brayden Michaud had a 91 average but rolled a high game of 193. Jessica Gill had a 188 average but scored 316 in one game.

“To get a 300 you’ve got to get a lot of strikes, and you’ve got to get a lot of spares,” said Crook. “You can maybe miss the middle a couple of times and that’s it.”

Bowker, who is 15, has been bowling since he was five, and intends to keep on bowling.

“It’s just fun and amusing,” he said.

Bowker’s skill at bowling earned him a trip this year to the YBC Nationals in Calgary and previous trips to Toronto and Newfoundland.

He was also one of three bowlers from Hay River to go to the YBC Nationals this year. The others were Jessica Gill and Nicole Irwin.

Youth Bowling Canada manages all programs for ages four to 19 in bowling lanes across Canada.

–Paul Bickford