The other Super Bowl

J.P. Salazar, Staff Writer

     Some people pitch a baseball, some kick around a soccer ball, some toss around a football, some spike a volleyball, and some throw a bowling ball. Even though bowling isn’t recognized as a UIL sport, 64 students have shown up to the Plano Super Bowl bowling center in hopes of making the bowling team.

     “Honestly bowling is really fun and getting a letterman for it would be so legit,” junior Nick Ralston said. “I go bowling once a month. It’s my most played sport, and I aspire to, if I make the team, practice three times a week.”

     There were tryouts held for the upcoming bowling season on Oct. 11, 12, 18 and 19. As part of the tryouts for the team, the students were expected to bowl ten games, and along with their average score for those games, factors like ability to learn, commitment and grades will be used to decide who gets on the team. Present at all these tryouts have been men’s bowling captain senior Jackson Harwell and founder of the bowling team coach Luis Benavides.

     “The sport is based off of hand-eye coordination, a commitment and actually sticking with it,” Harwell said. “It’s a willingness to learn, a willingness to get better, an acceptance of being taught, which some people don’t have, and a respect for the sport.”

     Benavides had been very involved in the world of bowling; he bowled while he was in high school in San Antonio . A couple of years ago, all bowling centers across Texas were asked if they could visit their local high school and start a club. Since then he has started the clubs for Senior, East and West. Benavides believes that anyone with the right mind set can learn to bowl.

     “Every year we have kids who have never bowled before who show true commitment and effort, and we work with those kids, and they learn a lot about bowling,” Benavides said.

     Harwell remembers first bowling in third grade when Benavides went to Carlisle, Harwell’s elementary school, and his mom was inspired to place him in bowling leagues every summer. Harwell joined the Plano bowling team in his freshman year and has been bowling since then.

     “I started with a plastic ball, and I could get technical with it, now I can do spins and all these other cool moves,” Harwell said. “I started with a 120 average, and now I have a 190 average. You have to maintain, and you have to keep getting better. With maturity and understanding you can grow.”

     At tryouts, the potential bowlers were aided by the coaches of the bowling team. Students walked away from making strikes with large smiles.

     “My favorite part about bowling is getting a Turkey [3 strikes in a row],” Ralston said. “There’s nothing better than getting a strike when you’re bowling and getting to go walk back afterwards. Enjoying your time with awesome people is just another benefit.”

     The environment at the bowling center differed from how Benavides described centers back in his time.

     “In the old age bowling centers were strictly for men, there was a lot of smoking and drinking going on, in today’s facilities there’s no smoking and there are secluded bars,” Benavides said. “Today, everything’s modern and up to date. It’s a great family place.”

     Something that was stated by Ralston, Benavides, and Harwell, was that the competitiveness of bowling is one of the biggest reasons they like to take part in it.

     “My favorite part about bowling is competing,” Harwell said. “I’m a really competitive person. When there is competition, you’re given a purpose, and a goal and when you have a goal you have a hope and a dream and an aspiration. It’s just the feel”

     The bowling captains hope to have a rewarding year with the large number of tryouts for this bowling season. Meanwhile, students who tried out for the team wait in anticipation to hone their skills, find out if they’ll be sporting a bowling jacket and, for some, receive their first bowling ball.

     “It’s better not to think about anything when you bowl, just focus on the act,” Benavides said. “When you bowl, when you go up to bat, when you go make a shot, it’s all about the flow, and above everything, it’s just practice, practice, practice.”