Two boys from the bantam (ages 7-13) league at Thunder Rolls Bowling Center prepare to bowl Sunday evening, while a high-roller (ages 14-18) bowls in the background. Many of the newer participants in youth leagues bowl without an approach so they can initially focus on their arm technique

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Two boys from the bantam (ages 7-13) league at Thunder Rolls Bowling Center prepare to bowl Sunday evening, while a high-roller (ages 14-18) bowls in the background. Many of the newer participants in youth leagues bowl without an approach so they can initially focus on their arm technique

Youth bowling leagues in Craig teach kids technique

Thunder Rolls Bowling Center is host to competitive, serious bowling leagues throughout the week.

On Sundays, however, the alley takes a youthful, exuberant turn.

Youth bowling leagues for children ages 4 to 18 take place at Thunder Rolls on Sunday evenings, as the next generation of Craig bowlers is shaped. There are three age groups with coaches trained to help them learn proper bowling technique.

The bowling coaches at Thunder Rolls, like Chris Runyan, hope they’ll get to catch the children early to give them as much technique help as possible.

“We really like to see them start the program young, but we have several high-rollers who have never done it before and they’re doing excellent,” Runyan said.

Aside from learning to play a game the right way, Runyan thinks being involved in the youth bowling leagues is a great alternative to other sports.

“It’s an inexpensive sport,” she said. “It’s a $17 membership, $7 per night, you get three games, and the cool thing is you don’t have to pay if you can’t make it. So you’re not committed for every week.”

Beth Loken, another coach for the youth leagues, thinks bringing bowling to the youths of the area can be a great thing for the children as well as their families.

“It gets the kids to start early, that way they can learn and improve,” Loken said. “It can be great for the family. You can come in with the family and have fun. I think bowling is a great family sport.”

The volunteer certified coaches who work with the bowlers focus on the basics, especially in the pee-wee and bantam (ages 7 to 13) leagues. At the high school level, many bowlers have learned to become more self-sufficient in policing their technique.

“The main thing the young kids need to learn is to keep the arm straight,” Runyan said. “That’s what you have to start with. Once they’ve got that down, then we work on their approach, then we work on their mark.

It’s fun to teach them etiquette, too. It’s just a very rewarding thing to do.”

And the coaching is showing some returns. Sheyenne Cromer, 14, has been participating in the Thunder Rolls youth bowling leagues for seven years and now sports an average of 164.

Sheyenne bowled 156, 208 and 214 in her three games Sunday night, and she enjoys bowling for the social and sport aspects of it.

“I like to have fun with friends, and also it’s a sport that not many people get involved with,” she said. “It’s just really fun to do, and it’s something to do to not get in trouble.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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