Allison Wilcox is a freshman at Shawnee Mission East and is a page designer. This is her first semester on staff. Outside of Harbinger she plays tennis and enjoys hanging out with friends. Read Full »
Photos by Luke Hoffman
Silence fills the air as freshman varsity member Sydney Williams approaches lane 12. Williams takes a deep breath and shoots the ball down the alley, her right arm extended, slightly tilting her body with exceptional form. Within seconds all ten pins are knocked down and the crowded bowling alley begins to cheer. This is a small window into the world of varsity bowling, a game of skill, focus, and precision.
Every day after school, 32 members of the SME bowling team drive 20 minutes to the AMF College Lanes where they practice from 3:30 p.m to 5:30 p.m. Ten bowling meets are squeezed into the two month season January and February. Some weeks are packed with up to three meets while others are sparse with competition.
Head coach, Frederick Elliott, founded the team in 2006 and has enjoyed watching his players grow through his years as a coach.
“You get to know the students in a whole different way,” Elliot said. “And you don’t need to be an athlete to bowl.”
He says that by spending so much time together the team is really like one big family that anyone can be apart of. The team has different traditions including visiting a local Freddy’s after each away meet to enjoy steakburgers and fries whether they leave with a win or a loss.
Audrey Helmuth is a junior in her third year on the east bowling team and she has been especially looking forward to the meets and team dinners because she thinks that the long hours of bowling have created an even closer bond than last year’s team. The 2017 team had a tight-knit friendship involving watching bowling trick shots at an upperclassmen’s house during team dinners. An ongoing joke the team finds amusing was created when someone sent a picture of the team bowling on a snow day reading “no days off.” This is often shouted by players across the bowling alley during practice.
In addition to the practices and meets, Helmuth thinks spirit wear also helps bring the team together by allowing the members to both represent and be proud to be on the team.
For Senior Kirby Motsinger, a first-year bowler, it was the spirit wear that attracted her to tryouts.
“I had always seen the sweatshirts so I was like ‘that’s so cool I want to be apart of that’ and I thought it was just a club, then found it was a sport,” Motsinger said. “I was kind of scared to try out and then my good friend Emma Chalk was on it all four years so she kinda helped me do it”.
Motsinger says each year she would consider trying out for the team but would always convince herself otherwise last minute due to being too nervous that she would do the sport injustice. She didn’t want to offend anyone who had an extreme passion for bowling by either bowling poorly or messing around.
“I’ve made a lot of friends and met a lot of people I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Motsinger said. “Bowling just kinda brings you together.”
Motsinger knows that the friendships she has made will last for a long time so she wants to continue bowling. If the team hadn’t been so welcoming, Motsinger wouldn’t have been able to make the amount of new friends that she has. When she goes off to college next year she is considering joining a college bowling club to continue meeting new people.
So far Motsinger has seen great improvement in her bowling, from originally bowling around a 70 to now bowling nearly a 130. She attributes her success to observing and trying to mimic how her teammate’s bowl.
In the past, the bowling team has qualified for state, but this year Coach Elliott is looking for his team to improve upon last years finish. In order to achieve these goals, the team is encouraged to keep on practicing in their free time.
Senior Kirby Motsinger prepares to bowl during the team’s recent meet
Sophomore Nick Zillner bowls during the recent East bowling meet at Olathe Bowling Lanes
Senior Matt Hogan chats with teammates during the recent East vs Gardner Edgerton bowling meet