Congratulations to the April 2021 Athlete of the Month - Matlyn Warner!
Matlyn has only been bowling for 5 years. Because she was so small, she didn't start bowling until age 10. She is a very busy girl and has a tough schedule but always finds time to work on her bowling skills. She will be a sophomore in the fall and is a varsity cheerleader, basketball player, high school bowler, and league bowler. She also maintains a 4.33 GPA and is ranked 2nd in her class. She is currently bowling 3 leagues, in 2 different bowling centers, but is always willing to go bowl more once others open. Matlyn was a nationally ranked power tumbler at age 14 and a competitive cheerleader before deciding to work more on bowling. Since then she has increased her average by 50 pins and has bowled her high game and series.
She recently bowled her high game of 290 and high series 706 twice. Member of U15 USA Bowling South Central Regional Championship team (Tornado Alley Twisters), City youth Tournament Champion (u12-20 girls), 2 time winner of Bowler of the Year Tournament, 2 time winner of Oklahoma Pepsi Tournament, Oklahoma State Bowling Tournament team and doubles champion, winner of multiple Southwest Gold Tour tournaments. U12 Cleveland Jr. Gold Youth/Adult tournament champion, Finished 2nd in the u15 Dallas Jr Gold youth/adult championship. Matlyn has only been bowling for 5 years, and has qualified for Jr. Gold every year.
Keep up the great work Matlyn, all your hard work is paying off! Welcome to the Bowl4Life Foundation family.
Congratulations to Callum Meredith on being the March 2021 Athlete of the Month!
Callum started bowling in the local youth league just before his 14th birthday. He had been bowling a handful of times before signing up, and was scared and nervous that he wasn't "good enough". We were not a bowling family, and didn't have any history with bowling leagues. He used a house ball and rental shoes for the first few weeks, and was too shy to talk to anyone. He got his first bowling ball for his 14th birthday (along with a pair of shoes), and decided to sign up for the Pepsi Youth Open.
With that commitment, he broke through his shyness and asked one of the league coaches if she would meet him for a little extra practice; he learned the "spare system", and began practicing non-stop. Six weeks later, he competed in his first Pepsi. He went into the event having never bowled in a competition like this before, and having started the season with an average of 95. Halfway through the second game, he tripped on his approach and fell, face-first, into the lane. Shook-up and a little sore, he picked up his ball to take his second shot, and because of the oil on his hand, dropped it behind him, fouling again. After re-racking his ball, he walked to the spectators area and said "I want to go home". We didn't know what to say, because we could understand his feelings, but didn't want to let him quit. His Coach came by, asked if he was hurt, and when he said "no", Coach told him "wash the oil off your hands and go do some bowling". And Callum did. He slipped one more time, going down on his knee but holding on to the ball. He fought for every spare and strike he made, applied every bit of coaching he could remember, and despite his 95 average, shot 151, 156, 146, 106 and 138. He placed very near the bottom of the pack for his division at the end, but realized he had something in him that he was not aware of before.
Before this Pepsi, we had talked about the "worst case scenario" and he decided that was the chance he would "fall on his face and drop the ball"; little did we know it would actually happen. Callum came away from this Pepsi with the knowledge that with hard work and perseverance he can overcome challenges, but also be completely hooked on bowling. Three months later he competed in a league qualifier for Junior Gold 2018 - and won. We travelled to Texas with two other families, and Callum found "his people". He made friends not only with his fellow league bowlers, but with kids from around the country, from diverse backgrounds with wildly different experiences, but all with bowling in common.
He was proud of the bowling he did in Texas, and came away determined to work even harder, do even better next time. Callum was spotted bowling later that summer by the High School bowling Coach, who immediately asked him to plan on trying out for the team when he started his freshman year of high school. Again, Callum was nervous and wondered if he was "good enough", but he went for it. That year, Callum made varsity starter, won an county All-Star award for high average, a Scholar-Athlete award for maintaining his 4.0 GPA, and his team qualified for the State Championship finals for the first time in more years than anyone could remember. He went back for his second Pepsi event and finished in the top 5, earning his first SMART scholarship for bowling. He qualified for Junior Gold again, and reconnected with the friends he had made the year prior. Sophomore year he and his High School team again won awards and made it to States, and he was so excited for Junior Gold in Las Vegas this year - but we all know what happened. Instead of becoming down about it, Callum practiced. He bowled in the grass in our yard. He wii-bowled when it was dark outside. He trained - he began running and started working out. He worked with his coach on a social-media promotion for the youth league. He took online summer classes to keep from getting bored, and when he finished those, he began studying for his USBC Level 1 Coaching certification. Bowling has slowly re-opened, and he has come out of the gates strong, with new physical and mental discipline, and an abundance of gratitude for his health and ability to keep bowling. He is looking forward to challenging himself by "helping the little kids learn to bowl", and now tells the story of how he fell flat on his face during his first Pepsi but persevered to become an award-winning bowler with his sights set on college bowling, to the newer, younger, shyer kids who are afraid they "aren't good enough" - and they look up to him. Callum is a bowler who has made a bowling family out of us, and we have loved every minute of it.
Congratulations Callum! We bet your new tools from Eileen's Bowling Buddies will be useful for practice! Keep up the great work and pushing hard for success.
Congratulations to the February 2021 Athlete of the Month - Abby Starkey!
14 years old
Abby Starkey has grown from a “baby” bowler into a young lady bowler, and her family feels so blessed for this sport and her part in it. Abby started bowling in the youth league when she was 8 years old. She would bowl her little league and then beg for more! Sometimes she would bowl 5 or 6 more after league, at age 8!!! Can you say PASSION??? That’s all there is to it. She was born to bowl!! Any free time she had, she wanted to bowl.
At age 8 she won “Pepsi” for Illinois. At 9 she finished 2nd, at the Pepsi tournament, which is the only competitive bowling she did. At age 10, her dad Brad, took her to the EYT - Elite Youth Tour. Her first time out she finished 2nd at 12U age group. The bowling wheels started to turn. Abby began doing the EYT’s every month. It took her a long time to win one, finishing second many times. She worked hard, made friends, learned how to lose gracefully, THAT is a skill in itself. She had fun and loved the game.
She went to Jr Gold in Cleveland as a 10 year old and made the cut! Then Tony Jordan put together a team called “The EYT Phenoms” and invited Abby to bowl with his sons. He took Abby under his wings and with his instruction, sharpened her natural ability and learned there is so much more to this game than just throwing the ball. My son studied the game in order to help her as well. It all paid off in 2019. Abby was first seed in Jr Gold Detroit 12U. So much emotion and life goes into these moments. Abby bowled on TV! She finished second, again, learning how to cope with the highs and lows.
So now the virus has robbed these kids of their passion and the ability to do what they love. In these times, you must find a way and you can’t do it alone. Their friends in the bowling community have made it possible for Abby to continue working with her passion. Brian Kolberg and Tony have supported her and other kids through this stuff. Abby has been able to compete in SYCs in Kansas, Orlando and Indy. She has medaled in all of them. She also won a 20U scratch open tournament, with a field of 26 girls, bowling a 299 to win the championship!!!
Abby’s family is so proud of her and the village that has helped Abby achieve her goals and pursue her passion. She has learned how to lose without tears, and there are lots of losses in any bowling career. She bowls without fear.
Keep up the great work Abby!