Coach Sean Penney and Cecilia Loder, left, provide high-fives for Jenna Leyte for a great shot during practice at the Centre Bowl. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
Sean Penney has been helping youth in Corner Brook hone their bowling skills for 14 years, but coaching a team on the biggest stage has always eluded him.
The wait is finally over for the Corner Brook man, who is also program director for the Youth Bowling Canada program at the Corner Brook Centre Bowl.
Penney is the coach of the junior girls team out of Centre Bowl who will represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the 2014 YBC Nationals May 3-5 in Winnipeg, Man. The team of Helena McCarthy, Jenna Leyte, Cecelia Loder, and Kayleigh Au won the provincial crown in St. John’s earlier this year to earn the right to wear the provincial colours in Winnipeg.
“I’ve always been close, but this is the first year now that I’ve got the opportunity,” Penney said.
Penney has travelled to previous nationals when Corner Brook had bowlers part of the provincial contingent in his role as program director, but that’s the extent of it. He believes it will be a different experience as a coach, and appreciates the opportunity. However, he’s quick to point out that the journey to Winnipeg is more about the group of young bowlers under his wing, than his coaching resume.
“I’m more excited for the girls,” he said.
“This is about them, and going up there and helping them achieve their goals. I’m really proud of the girls.”
He believes the foursome has the right mix to bring a medal home from Winnipeg.
“I honestly believe this team has the opportunity to walk away with a gold medal up there, if they bowl like they can bowl,” he said. “They’re on par with anybody in Canada. That’s the feeling, and the scores show that from past years.”
Penney dabbled in youth bowling as a younster, but never had the opportunity to represent his province on a national stage.
Winnipeg, actually, is a special place for him to be making his national coaching debut because his mom (Rosetta Penney) coached her first team at nationals in the same city in 1977.
“That’s a great feeling as well. To be able to walk in her footsteps means a lot to me,” he said of his mom, who died in 1999.
Penney’s team will be joined by a bunch of fellow keglers from Centre Bowl in the quest for national glory. Corner Brook is representing the province in bantam and senior girls on the team side, while Jamie Hickey and Amy Mauger will represent the province in singles action when the best from coast-to-coast put it all on the hardwood in Winnipeg.
Time will tell if that gold medal is dangling around the coach’s neck.