Faith Batstone visualizes a path for the bowling ball during practice at the Centre Bowl Tuesday. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
Beth Arsenault will probably remember her 10th birthday for many years to come.
The 10-year-old Corner Brook kegler, who moved to Deer Lake this year, earned her first trip to the Youth Bowling Canada (YBC) Nationals on Feb. 22 at the Plaza Bowl in St. John’s.
“The night I came back from St. John’s I was crying I was so happy because it was my birthday,” Beth said during a team practice earlier this week. “We won on my birthday, Feb. 22.”
Arsenault, Faith Lidstone, Makayla Bugden and Lauren Hurley, under the tutulage of coach Cory Hurley, captured gold in the bantam girls bracket to earn the right to represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the 2014 YBC Nationals next month in Winnipeg, Man.
Beth, daughter of Danny and Terri-Lynn Arsenault, remembers how the momentum kept shifting at provincials, and the tense moments she experienced before finally hearing she was going to Winnipeg with her teammates.
For the young girl who still seems overwhelmed with what the team accomplished, Beth is just happy to be going to Winnipeg. She isn’t overly concerned with how many strikes or spares she throws.
“I went to nationals. It’s like the biggest opportunity a kid could get,” she responded when asked what she was hoping to be able to say when it was over.
Coach Hurley has appreciated the level of commitment his young bowler has made to the team.
“Her commitment to bowling has really flourished since making the team, and she has been on the highway after schools in recent weeks to attend practices,” he said.
It will be the third-straight national appearance for coach Hurley.
Lauren, who is the coach’s daughter, is the only returning member from last year’s squad and the first ball she throws down the lanes in Winnipeg will mark her third appearance at a national YBC event.
Bursting onto the national scene as a member of the province’s combo team at the age of five, Lauren — now 9 years old — led all bantam girls at the Centre Bowl this year with a 160 average.
The team’s anchor, Lauren has been known to put a lot of pressure on herself to deliver big scores — too much at times, according to her coach.
“She’s proven to be a clutch bowler; the bigger the stage the better it seems,’’ coach said.
According to Lauren, she believes all the girls have strengths that the team can feed off, but she’s also giving them some advice knowing her teammates have never been on the big stage before.
“We don’t expect to get a medal as much as we did at the other tournaments, so just keep confident in yourself and maybe we’ll have a chance,” she said. “Just have fun and bowl your best.”
Lauren has a bronze medal, so now she hopes to help the girls get their first medal.
“For it to happen, we have to have really good attitudes. If you don’t have a good atttitude, you don’t bowl good,” she said. “If you have a bad frame, just forget about it and move on to the next one ... pretend that never happened, just move on.”
Faith, daughter of Pauline Earle and stepdad Doug Rowsell, may be just one of the most forunate of the four girls. She got called into action as a replacement bowler when one of the girls on the team dropped out prior to zones.
She’s so happy to be representing the province that she really don’t worry about how the bowling unfolds.
“It doesn’t really matter if we win or lose, it’s whether we have fun or not,” she said.
Faith, 10, has been working on her game because she knows she can improve. She’s even Ok with the fact she has had more practices to prepare for the trip, something she admits she wasn’t too keen on initially.
Like her teammates, she seems to be focusing on her coach’s advice as she prepares for the big tournament.
“I need to work on end pins. I can’t even get an end-pin spare. When I don’t want to get an end pin, I ended up getting them,” she said with a hearty chuckle.
The young girls build off their coach’s enthusiasm for the sport, cheering each other on through the good times and bad. Faith likes to help as much as she can.
“I would cheer them up,” she said. “That’s what my mom told me to do, and I was going to do it anyway.”
Her coach has liked the way she has stepped in to join the team and continues to improve.
“She has consistently gotten better, improving her form,” coach Hurley said.
Makayla, eight years old and the youngest team member, has a unique bowing style, delivering the ball with two hands on her approach as oppposed to one.
“Although it’s different, she delivers the ball with great accuracy and consistency,” coach Hurley said of Steve and Kelly Bugden’s daughter.
Makayla had tears in her eyes when she was asked about representing her province at such a young age.
“It means a lot for me to go for the first time, and I get to see my family up there,” Makayla said.
“I’m nervous and sort of excited at the same time really, but in a good way,” she said.
All four girls just want to have the time of their lives, and that’s really what anybody should expect of them. With two more weeks of practice to go, he said his foursome is getting there. Consistency is key over 21 games, and the coach knows it is anybody’s game after the first ball is thrown.
It’s pretty impressive that a young group has figured out there’s more to sports than wins and losses.
“I don’t really care if we don’t get a medal as long as we do good,” Makayla said.
She is thankful for the opportunity, and appreciates the effort her teammates made to win the championship.