When people think of "The Bowling Congress", the term is associated with a central organi- zation that puts together rule books, registers bowlers, legalizes bowling centers (in case of world records), and issues prizes for career bowling performances. Obviously there's more to it than that. But the Ontario Fivepin Bowling Association (O5PBA) has a hand in creating one perk for the up and coming bowler of which it can be most proud—the annual sanctioning of the O5PBA Bowling School.
The "Bowling School" is a joint effort between the bowling congress and the bowling proprietors (and essentially, the 9,000+ sanctioned league bowlers paying their annual $15 league sanction fees). All monies funneled to the Congress go toward the activities that the O5PBA endorses. Additionally, Fivepin Bowling qualifies to receive a modest amount of grant money 'as an amateur sport' from federal funding for national events for the youth and disabled.
Since 1992, the O5PBA Bowling School has convened at Sherwood Centre in Hamilton—Hamilton being about an hour from Toronto by car. With the cooperation and support of nearby McMaster University, dorm facilities are set up as accommodations for the enrolling bowlers and for the special bowling instructors during the extended weekend, which runs from Wednesday night through Sunday. The Bowling School was modeled after a similar school with a 4-day curriculum that was previously established in Saskatch- ewan by Tom Paterson, a multiple Canadian champion who has written 2 books on bowling instruction.
Evaluation, Preparation, Demon- stration and Realization are the 4 main themes of the school. Youth bowlers are paired up in 4 member teams within 3 groups according to their age (mostly ranging in age from 13-18) and skill level with an Instructor for the first 2 days. The youth bowler's game is evaluated and thoroughly documented, with on-lane adjustments made by the Instructor. On the second day, in the evening, the pros come in and join the groups. The pros are invited to the school not only for their bowling successes, but their ability to add to the teaching and to demonstrate the skills required physically and mentally to bowl well. The kids bowl 15 recorded games over the course of the school and receive awards for 'scratch' and 'high pins over average' results. There are tourneys with the pros (2 team events) and against each other in match-play singles leading to the finals on Sunday in front of the parents. There is also the 'Gauntlet', where they get to bowl one ball matches against all of the instructors and pros with re-bowls when shots are tied, which is really fun, as the kids get to choose who goes first. It is a real marathon, and they love beating the pros.
There are also some off-lane sessions as well, regarding a variety of topics, including a "Pro Panel", where the kids see the pros' bios, and can ask them questions on anything about their bowling careers, as well as the pro's views on goal setting, nutrition, motivation, etc.
John Honeyford, one of the fivepin game's most influential mentors, and most renown bowling historian, has been a '2nd level' instructor for the annual event for the past 12 years. "The Bowling School is something the instructors and pros look forward to every year," Honeyford says. "It's an event in which the pros get a chance to 'give back' to the kids with good quality instruction, and they get great satisfaction out of it". Some of the kids are among the top youth bowlers in Ontario who will eventually end up as pros on a competitive level.
The kids are all sent home with a full written evaluation and report that they can use and refer to. The fee is $550 for the 4-day school, with the instructors and pros giving their time (and vacation time) freely for this event.
Connie Ward is in charge of the curriculum for the School, and Kristi Lampman, Jeff Young, and Dave Secord are bowlers involved with the duckpin pro tours who attend the school yearly. Most of the instructors are certified coaches as are a number of the pros and coordinators of the school. In Canada, there is a national coaching system for amateur sport in general, called the "NCCP", of which fivepin bowling is a part. To counsel the youths, instructors and pros have to be certified at either the first (community) level or second (competitive) level in order to coach at Provincial or National finals, and most youth coaches have at least the first level now.
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