High school embraces bowling as varsity sport
By BLAKE STEWART
Nov. 11, 2017
OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — For most people, bowling is just a hobby or an activity to do with friends on the weekends, but for Apollo High School, it's much more meaningful.
"People think of bowling as a recreational league where you come out and you're eating and drinking and just kind of messing around, but we take it very serious," Apollo bowling coach Kerrie Gatton said. "It's a varsity sport. We treat it like that. Our kids practice hard and go at it."
Gatton was part of a group that urged the Daviess County Public School board to make bowling a high school sport many years ago. Now, more and more high schools in Kentucky are following suit — Ohio County last year and Henderson County this year.
"It's definitely a growing sport around here," said Gatton, whose son, Ryan, has bowled for the team since he was in sixth grade.
This is now the fifth season for the Apollo boys' bowling team and the third for the girls' team.
Both teams have had much success in their brief history. The boys won the region and went to the KHSAA state tournament their first season, and the girls' team did the exact same in their second season.
This year's team consists of 12 boys and nine girls. The boys are 2-1 this season while the girls are undefeated at 3-0.
Apollo senior Brandon Pendley has been a part of the Eagles' bowling team since eighth grade, when the team formed.
"Immediately I wanted to join it, because bowling has been a huge part of my life," he said. "It's been great.
"It's definitely a privilege to have a bowling team for our high school."
Pendley, whose average score is 210, has been bowling since he was four years old. However, you don't have to be a lifetime bowler in order to be on the team as senior Maggie Carter has shown.
Carter hadn't bowled until she joined the girls' bowling team her freshman year.
"I just got an announcement through the school that there was bowling tryouts and I said 'Maybe I should try it, it might be something that I would enjoy,' " Carter recalled. "So I came out and I liked it. It's my passion and I love to do it."
Carter, who averaged a 193 last season, has improved tremendously bowling since she joined the team.
"At the beginning I mainly just threw it into the gutter," she said. "Now I've progressed into learning how to hit my mark and learning how to hook the ball in a normal, consistent way."
Carter recently signed a letter of intent to bowl at Union College once she graduates.
Gatton says bowling differs from other sports because of the less importance emphasized on someone's physical abilities, unlike in football or basketball.
"We probably don't have your standard athlete," Gatton said. "It doesn't matter how fast you are, how slow you are. You can be tall or short, it doesn't really matter with bowling.
"It gives kids that aren't your normal athlete an opportunity to earn a varsity letter, to play a sport, which we know is good for kids at this age to get involved in something. That's why we love it."
She also said bowling is a unique sport because it has no particular age limit on when and how long you can play.
"The great thing about bowling is they can do this the rest of their life," Gatton said. "It's something they're always going to be able to do. They can join leagues afterward or eventually they might do it with their own families or whatever, but something they can do in their lifetime."
Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, http://www.messenger-inquirer.com