It’s no secret that Rhode Island is the smallest state in U. S. In fact, Las Angeles county is larger than Little Rhody. I’ve witnessed first hand the challenges that athletes have in any sport once they leave the safe confines of our state borders. Since we have a relatively small number of youth it is difficult to offer the same types of programs other states can offer. In some sports weather plays a factor. Our season for warm weather sports is very short. Add all of the infrastructure issues together and you can begin to see the challenge. How does a youth athlete progress to the point where they can effectively compete on a national stage?
Sad to say but Bowling in our area also adds some unique challenges. Generally, it is not accepted as a legitimate sport by many. Perhaps that is one driver behind why the interschoolastic league does not recognise Bowling as a Varsity sport as it is in many other parts of the country. It’s no wonder that our collective thought on Bowling is to take it lightly. We structure the majority of our leagues to inflate scores and averages by ever increasing handicap percentages and easier “house” shots. All of this in an attempt to level the playing field by making less skilled bowlers equal to those who have put countless hours into their games to improve.
Well all is not lost, there seems to be a movement afoot that could change Bowling in our area. It is happening quietly almost to the point where no one has noticed. The Junior Bowlers in New England are beginning to make some noise on the national scene.
Just focusing on Rhode Island , we have seen a ground swell over the past few years of Juniors who perhaps are teaching us adults a lesson or two about what competitive Bowling is and maybe, just maybe we might see a resurgence of good Bowling in years to come. Let’s take a look at some of the more recent youth from Rhode Island who have moved on to compete collegiately and in other arenas as well.
First, the eldest of the recent crop Courtney Varin (West Warwick, RI). She just graduated from Delaware State University with a Biology degree where she was an NCAA Varsity Bowler for four seasons. She Bowled under the instruction and leadership of Kim Terrell for two of her seasons. During this time, the Hornets posted a school record 119 wins, was invited to the NCAA national tournament twice where they made the final four on their first attempt. Del. State also won back to back MEAC conference championships. Varin was a three time Academic All-American and the recipient of the Del. State’s Bowler of the Year award in her Senior Year.
Next, there is Victor Gomez, Jr. (Providence, RI). He has just started his second year Bowling for Mark Scroggins at West Texas A&M. Victor worked his way into the starting lineup his freshman year and also achieved the Dean’s list in both semesters.
Also, back for her Sophmore year is Nicole Trudell (Coventry, RI). She is an NCAA Varsity Bowler for Becky Kregling at Sacred Heart University. In her Freshman year Nicole got off to a terrific start by not only working her way into the Pioneer’s starting lineup but, was recognized as the NCAA Rookie of The Year. Nicole finished 6th at the USBC Junior Gold Tournament held in Las Vegas this Summer topping off a great year for her.
This year marks the first year for Jermaine Dumond (East Providence, RI) on the Collegiate scene. He is attending Viterbo University in Wisconsin and will be Bowling for the Hawks this season.
These four are an example of local talent beating the odds. They compete against the best the nation has to offer and not only hold their own but excel. They are the first wave of what has put the smallest state on the map as far as Bowling is concerned.
It’s easy to see the result of their hard work and determination. What we cannot easily see is the hours of sacrifice and preparation that went into getting them to where they are. Also, what most are not aware of is that these dedicated athletes do not just show up on the weekend to bowl a few games. No, they spend on average six days a week in rigorous practice sessions for several hours at a time. They also have a demanding schedule several times a week in the Gym. All of this, plus competing almost every weekend is in addition to their College class schedule. How’s that for dedication? If you have never attended a Collegiate Bowling event, I would encourage you to do so. It just may change your perspective on Bowling.