Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Coaching Classes Coming This Summer

We get questions all the time about coaching classes, so I'm happy to announce that we'll have two coaching classes coming in August.

The first class is a Dick Ritger Level 1 Coaching course, scheduled for August 20, at Big Apple Lanes in Kearney. The class will run from 9am-5pm and will be taught by Ritger trainer extrordinaire, Bob Rea.

Lunch will be provided during this session. The cost for one coach from each school to attend is $49. The cost for additional coaches from a school is $99 per coach. The registration deadline for this course is August 13.

The next day, August 21, Sun Valley Lanes is hosting an NHSBF Coach Certification Course . Bob Rea will be leading this session too. This session runs from 1-5pm.

One coach from each school may attend at no cost. The cost for additional coaches from a school is $29 per coach. Registration deadline is also August 13.To register, send your payment along with the names of the coaches attending to:

NHSBF, 321 Victory Lane, Lincoln, NE. 68528

Be sure to indicate which session you will be attending. For more information, contact John Losito, 402-475-3469.

As a reminder, at least one coach from each school must either have NHSBF coach certification, USBC Bronze training, or Dick Ritger Academy Level I certification in order for the team to be eligible for competition.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The May Column

Here's the May column, the final one for this season. We've got some good things cooking for the rest of the school year into the Summer. We're going to be working hard to get some more traction for the idea that bowling belongs in the schools as an NSAA-recognized sport. Stay tuned during these next few months!

High School Bowling Confidential
May 2011
For the last column of the season, I would like to prepare you for spreading the word about how cool it would be for high school bowling to be an NSAA sport.
Last month I mentioned that you would run into some nonsensical arguments against this crazy notion of making bowling an NSAA recognized sport. Here’s another one to watch for.
NSAA Recognition Would Keep Students From Participating
I love this one. It has all the ingredients of the short-term thinking that goes into the resistance against making our sport NSAA sanctioned.
The “logic” behind this stems from an assumption that cuts would be made, and there would be a limit to the number of teams formed to compete.
Well, in some programs, cuts are already being made. It happens. How the coach and the bowling center handle this is critical.
The coach and the bowling center need to work together to create a program for students to go into if they get cut. This would be a developmental program, so the students can continue to improve their game.
As far as limiting the number of teams goes, will there be an unlimited number of JV teams allowed? Probably not.
Depending on student interest and budgets, there could be a JV team, Reserve team, and a Freshmen team. Using a roster size of seven for 5-person teams, this would allow 56 students (boys and girls) to be a part of the bowling program.
An Omaha-Lincoln Thing
Which brings us to the other part of this flawed “logic.” Do we think that any other Nebraska community is going to have this problem of too many students? That would be something, but again, a cooperative approach between the coach and the bowling center can deal with this situation, should it arise.
Attitude will determine if these situations are problems or opportunities. For too many years, we’ve let poor attitudes dictate this argument. It’s time to end that streak.
An Interesting Inquiry
            We got an interesting call from an unlikely source, offering support for our efforts to gain NSAA recognition.
            A Nebraska state senator’s office called to see if there was anything they could do to help get bowling the NSAA recognition we’re seeking.
            While this is a very flattering offer of support, we respectfully asked for the state senator to hold off on taking any formal action until we determined if that was necessary. We offered to keep the senator’s office up to date on our progress.
Wrapping Up Another Season
            With another successful high school bowling season behind us, it’s time to say thanks to all the students, coaches, parents, and sponsors for continuing to help move bowling forward.
            Thanks also to those of you who regularly turn to this column for my take on high school bowling in Nebraska. As more news breaks between now and August, I’ll be writing about it at
            Last, but certainly not least, thanks to Duane Alstadt for his continued support, and John, Larry, Les, and Steve for their comments on each month’s writing. They are great editors.
            See you in August!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Update to Saturday's Post

We're learning more about the specifics of the Nebraska USBC meeting where our proposal was to be voted on.

It turns out that there was an individual upset that we would have the nerve to ask a bowling organization for help moving forward on an effort that the national organization these people are supposed to represent thinks is important. All that upset caused our request to go to the finance committee instead of being voted on at the time of our presentation. Okay, the extra research is a sound idea, so three members of the board attended the State Championships back in February.

They must have liked what they saw, because they stayed for nearly all of the Sunday final matches. So, fast forward to their next meeting on March 26, and guess what? No quorum. Not enough people attended the meeting to officially call the meeting to order.

The board will try again on July 30. Hopefully this time there will be enough people able to attend the meeting.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

We're working on some pretty cool ideas to help get bowling the NSAA-reconition we've been working toward all these years. As is sometimes the case when we are taking a few steps forward, we hear about a comment or an action that gets taken which momentarily catches us off guard.

It may come as a surprise to the readers of this little blog, but the effort to get bowling through the NSAA process, along with administering a state-wide program like we have, costs money. John, Les, Steve, Larry, and I give our time for this, because it's going to be great for the sport of bowling. Every year, the State Championships are run flawlessly by a large group of volunteers who enjoy the event and believe in what we're trying to accomplish.

The things that cost are the scholarships, the District and State bowling lineage, the NET telecast, the market research and web re-design we've had done, and other typical expenses like meals, mileage, and lodging for the trips we've taken across the state to promote the cause.

We are blessed to have tremendous financial support from the Nebraska State Bowling Proprietors, the Alan & Marcia Baer Foundation, the Lincoln Bowling Association, along with the thousands of people who have purchased merchandise or paid for admission into District and State competition.

We recently asked the Nebraska USBC for financial support to put forward our most aggressive plan to date to achieve NSAA recognition. The process was moving along just fine until it got derailed by more of the garbage that we thought had stopped getting slung around about our efforts.

The latest load of rubbish comes from a person in Omaha that should know better. Simply put, two of our members, John and Steve, have been accused of using high school bowling as a ticket to financial freedom! Getting rich off high school bowling? Are you kidding me?

John and Steve will probably address this nonsense with facts at some point in the future. And, as it usually is when the facts rear their head, the people spreading the nonsense tend to fade away.

More on this as the story unfolds. It will end well, an we'll probably look back and laugh.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tournaments Outside the Winter Window

From the beginning we've said that the perfect scenario for high school bowling would be to have the season run during the winter sports season, followed by some out of season competition. For years, the Star City Open has flourished as an out of season event, attracting teams from neighboring states to compete. This year, the Star City Open is going to be carried on the USBC's website, This is a first for a high school event.

Another high school bowling event coming soon is a Bakers Doubles event at Mockingbird Lanes in Omaha. There are two squads, 9am and Noon, with the top ten teams coming back for finals once the Noon squad is completed.

For more information on this event, contact Scott Sullinger, at The Bowling Store, 402-991-2660.

There's no reason bowling can't enjoy the same kind of success that volleyball does with school and club competition. An off season program is perfect for getting more students involved and to help them develop the skills needed to continue to compete at the highest level.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good Enough to Compete? Really?

Back when I was involved in running the Omaha high school bowling league, I used to hear adult volunteers who were organizing teams say that they weren't sure they were going to have a team because they couldn't get enough good players.

Never mind that they had boatloads of kids try out and they had no problem putting teams together, the volunteer was worried that the collection of student athletes wouldn't be good enough to compete against more experienced and talented players. This kind of attitude in someone responsible for coaching is pretty bogus, in my opinion.

Being a part of the Varsity team is something that many student athletes dream of. Sure, you get kids that come through your program that have next to no competitive blood in them. They want to hang out with their friends and be a part of a team, but after that . . . . well, it's just not a big deal. Those students are the exception, in my experience.

Our job as coaches is to get kids to see things in themselves that maybe they don't yet see. Our job is to help them improve their skills and not worry about whether they lose a match. A coach, especially a high school coach, especially a high school bowling coach, should be putting player growth and development above winning and losing. Holding kids back from Varsity competition because they might lose some games, throws growth and development out the window, and may indicate that the coach doesn't have the skills to help his or her players develop.

With all this being said, I've seen and heard some things in the last few weeks that tell me this trend of holding kids back is alive and well in high school bowling.

This came up recently for me when I was looking at the Omaha Metro Bowling league website. I noticed a lack of Varsity teams. Not a big deal, generally, because these things do fluctuate from year to year. But then I looked at the JV standing sheet and saw boatloads of JV teams. Again, generally, this isn't a big deal, because it's great to be able to field several JV teams to give kids the opportunity to compete.

What stood out in this whole thing was how many of these schools with JV teams had no Varsity teams bowling. I looked further at the team breakdown. Check this out:

Marian has eight JV girls teams, but no Varsity girls entry.
Northwest has two JV boys teams, but no Varsity boys entry.
Central has a JV girls team, but no Varsity girls entry.
Ralston has two JV girls teams, but no Varsity girls entry.

Now, it's not like the JV and Varsity bowl on different days and times, so the schedule prohibits the school from putting a Varsity team into competition. And, remember, since bowling isn't an NSAA-sanctioned sport, the schools aren't making these decisions anyway. To Varsity or not to Varsity is a coach-driven decision.

Unfortunately, this isn't just an Omaha thing. The NHSBF faces some of this too. We currently run four classes of competition, similar to most high school sports in Nebraska. We've never had deep numbers at the Class D level, so all those teams are generally making it into the State Championships. On the surface, that's not a bad thing I suppose, but with all the other classes competing hard for a spot in the tournament, it's tough to see the lack of a challenge in Class D.

The obvious answer to me is to only have three classes of competition, or structure the classes differently, so that Class D teams earn their spot in the State Championships. The way to do this is a topic for another day. For now, one of the reasons we haven't merged Class C & D is the fear that some of the Class D schools would drop out of the program entirely. Why? Because they don't think they could compete against the Class C teams.

Just to make sure I"m clear on this, I think this situation is as bogus as what's happening with the teams I mentioned above from Omaha. Holding students back from Varsity competition, or more challenging competition, because the coach doesn't think the team can compete, is offensive to me.

Winning is great, but after spending years hearing coaches tell me they are "in this for the kids," I'm wondering if that's a true statement. Look, bowling is not football, where players who are bigger and stronger are going to be blocking and tackling a smaller and less skilled opponent. Last I checked, bowling is still a sport where you don't block or tackle the members of the other team.

Is there a gap in skill levels sometimes? Sure, but as a coach our job is to help our players get better and enjoy the sport. Teams win and teams lose, but none of that keeps a bowler from improving and enjoying our sport. Losing is tough, but it's a part of our lives. A good coach knows how to coach through losses and keep the student-athletes focused on their goals. If the only goal is winning, it's time for the coach to find a new hobby, and give a real coach an opportunity to motivate and inspire their players.

With another season completed, it's time to renew the effort to get bowling the NSAA recognition our students deserve. It's time to get this program in the hands of the schools, where the mission to give students opportunities outweighs the need for a coach to win games and tournaments.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Class C Boys Final

The last match-up turned out to be one of the best of the day, with Ravenna and Wisner/Pilger fighting for the Class C Boys crown.

Wisner/Pilger, runner-up for the past two seasons, opened with a 178-172 victory. While Ravenna came back to take the next three games, each one was close.

Ravenna won game two 183-164 and then pulled out a 1-pin victory in game three, 191-190. Game four was a see-saw battle, with the Blue Jays finally prevailing in a 187-171 victory.

Congratulations to Ravenna, the Boys Class C Champion.

Congratulations to all the champions today. It was a great day of bowling and sportsmanship.