The third time is a charm.
If a charm refers to both shocking and gratifying, then yes, a charm indeed.
For the third time in a row, the Bantam girls from the Centre Bowl — whom I coach — will be representing Newfoundland and Labrador at the Youth Bowling Canada (YBC) nationals. The won the provincials in St. John’s Saturday, winning the tournament by 97 pins on the strength of a strong final game that took them from 16 pins down to claim the title.
The first year was a championship of redemption. It followed a year in which my team lost by just 32 pins. It was a determined effort that built off knowing that it could be done. It was the first time I coached a team that went to the nationals.
Last year, title number two, was an expectation. I knew how good a team we had, and the competition was not close. Our four games were higher than any other of the team’s best game. They showed how good they were by claiming the bronze medal at the nationals, and Team of the Year for the province.
This year, I had hope of a three-peat, but my expectations were to be competitive. With just one returning bowler — albeit my strongest in Lauren Hurley (yes my daughter) — and three newcomers to competition, I thought they could bowl really well and only have just a chance.
Well, through three games, I was right. They had bowled really well, but were still trailing by 16. By the mid-way mark of Game 4 it was all but over. They were on fire. Three strikes in a row from eight-year-old Makayla Bugden — the little firecracker on the team — and Lauren continuing her prowess as anchor. They walked away with the gold. A 183 from Makayla and a 206 from Lauren sealed the deal.
Lauren finished with a 189 average — amazing for a nine-year-old, who does have a 160 average in YBC — and Makayla backed her up with a stellar 158 average. Beth Arsenault, with a 128 average, consistently gave the team what they needed, and Faith Batstone, a late addition due to a drop out, proved to be just what the team needed with a 138 average herself.
After seeing two bantam girls nationals in a row, I know they have two months to make improvements to reach the next level. However, they have already proven they have what it takes.
So, this trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba is again different from the others. In some ways it is even more gratifying than the others. If it is even fair to say for a local volunteer, it is my greatest achievement of the three coaching tasks. However, I’m not going to take the credit for the determination and effort of four young girls.
I again cheered, jumped and screamed; hugged, consoled, calmed and encouraged my way through four games. It proved to be enough, and I’ll take it. One thing for sure, nobody can argue with or better the results, and I will ride the coat tails of four young girls to another nationals.
That is charming enough for me.