Middle school bowlers take center stage

From excited youngsters in their first youth league to talented high school bowlers with their sights set on a state title, the Miami Valley has long been a hotbed for youth bowling and a new initiative is designed to keep it that way.

The Miami Valley Sports Foundation is partnering with Poelking Lanes South for a first-of-its-kind scholarship tournament for bowlers in the 8th grade or younger. The Middle School Bowling Championship — with a guaranteed $1,000 first-place scholarship — is slated for March 3 at the Centerville bowling center.

“There is a big gap when it comes to this age group and we’re going to start seeing high school programs suffer as a result,” former Centerville High School coach Andy Parker said. “A tournament like this fills a need we haven’t really addressed.”

Parker, who coaches several young bowlers, is hopeful that this scratch tournament will be the first of many events designed for middle schoolers with high school bowling aspirations.

“High school is scratch bowling, so this is giving them the opportunity to experience what that is like,” he said.

Filling a void for young local athletes fits perfectly with the mission of the Miami Valley Sports Foundation.

“A foundation goal is supporting and encouraging youth sports, particularly sports that may benefit from some direct promotion,” said David Hicks, of the Miami Valley Sports Foundation. “It’s great to see young people find a sport they enjoy and can pursue throughout their academic career.”

The tournament format will consist of five games of qualifying, on a modified house shot, before the field is cut to the top half. After another three games, the field will be cut to the Top 4 for the stepladder finals which will be live-streamed. The champion will walk away with $1,000 in SMART scholarship money and one-in-four bowlers will cash. The highest female placer will also earn an additional $200 scholarship to add to her tournament total.

“The prize fund is unbelievable, and this will be a nice showcase for everyone,” Parker said.

The foundation is planning to allocate funds for additional bowling events moving forward.

“Our initial plan is to sponsor this event annually, but our hope is that the response is strong enough to support adding a fall tournament,” Hicks said.

Middle School Bowling Championship

What: Scratch tournament sponsored by the Miami Valley Sports Foundation with $1,000 first-place prize (SMART Scholarship) and one-in-four bowlers cashing

Who: Current USBC members in 8th grade or below

When: March 4, 11 a.m., check-in at 10 a.m.

Where: Poelking Lanes South, 8871 Kingsridge Dr., Centerville

Info: 937-435-3855

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