It's high time for bowling to become a high school letter sport in Harford County public schools (and the entire state for that matter).
For a number of years it has been a high school letter sport in Allegheny County. Washington and Frederick County organizers are developing a program to present to their school boards. And Tuesday night at the Harford school board meeting the topic will be on the agenda for discussion.
Over 700 youngsters in Harford are already engaged in bowling. Some of them are excelling in the sport.
Here's a few examples of county high schoolers into bowling: Monyalo Webster is on his way to the University of Maryland with expectations of being on the university's bowling team. Rachel Cassady carries a 162 average with a high game of 265,a high set of 670. Rochelle Brown placed first in the recentCoca-Cola regionals. The list could go on.
The point is that there are fine young bowlers in the county who will be shortchanged if the activity does not become a letter sport in the high schools.
And, if given the opportunity to grow as high school bowlers, they have a chance to engage in the sport in college. Already the college ranksare turning out top-notch amateur bowlers, many of whom are able to turn professional after graduation.
Thousands of youth are engagedin bowling through the Young America Bowling Alliance, where they are not only learning the fundamentals of bowling but the lessons of sportsmanship, of courtesy, of dignity in the face of defeat, of graciousness in victory.
Unlike some other sports, bowlers can pursue bowling long after they have left high school, long after other athletes have had age encroach upon their abilities.
The Pan Am games have just included bowling as a full medal sport. The Olympics in Seoul,South Korea, in 1988 included bowling as a demonstration sport, and it seems bowling will be a medal sport in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
What's more, there are many groups with ties to bowling that are supplying scholarships to Harford students.
Among them are the Eastern Maryland Junior Bowling Association, Maryland State Junior Bowling Association, Maryland Tenpin Council, Cecil-Harford Bowling Association, and Harford County Women's Bowling Association.
All four commercial bowling centers say they support offering bowling as a letter high school sport and would make tournament facilities available at no cost.
"I'd like to see bowling become a high school letter sport," says Bob Marshall Jr. of Harford Lanes. "There's no better sport for kids to engage in today. This program would open doors for a lot of youngsters."
Bob believes the Young American Bowlers Alliance (YABA) loses a lot of youngsters because bowling is not a high school letter sport. YABA offers certified coach/instructor training at various levels. This instruction would be available to the coaching personnel.
Additionally, many certified coaches could conceivably assist coaching local students.
The only school I could find that had some organized bowling activity is Aberdeen High School, currently offering an after-school league at Harford Lanes.
Total financing costs have yet to be determined for making bowling a letter sport. But I'd wager costs will be minimal.
A joint committee has been formed to recommend and implement the sport of bowling as an interscholastic high school letter sport in Harford County. The preliminary proposal was presented to the Harford County Council of PTA's on March 21,1991. The council gave their unanimous support.
"I'd like to see bowling become a high school letter sport," says Karen McKenna, president of the Constance Branch Community Association, who sat on the committee. "After all, bowling is a form of physical education,and any one can compete."
In the proposed format, each of the four commercial centers would provide the facilities for two high schools. One day a week each high school would have a YABA-sanctioned league. The season would run with the winter sport season of the school system. Every two weeks, all eight schools would meet at one of the bowling centers to compete. At the conclusion of the season, a championship woulddetermine the county champion.
Surely, it's an idea whose time has come. Seven states, including New York and Minnesota, have bowling as a letter sport; over 200 colleges are involved in bowling. One day, sooner or later, most counties in Maryland will have high school bowling programs.
Why not start now in Harford County?