The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Homegrown Champions, Treasure In The Heartland

by db Conard, The Quill

Bowling:it's so much more than just a game, and for the most part, it begins in the gutter. It's all about keeping it in the lane, and working on your average.

Everyone starts in the gutter as a normal part of learning the game. Gutters can't be helped; they are what give form to the game. The gutter serves as a boundary that can not be mistaken; it is a place that offers nothing other than somewhere to stay away from. Once in, there is no doubt as to the black hole that ends in momentary failure, but mimicking life, it often gives back second and third chances for improvement.

Mental, physical, social, and emotional investment is what it takes to be a serious competitor in this unique sport. The nice thing is that if you have no desire to compete, one simple thing called "fun" comes with every visit to the bowling alley where everyone is trying to keep it out of the gutter, and enjoy an evening out.

The treasure I found this week is a group of champions in our midst. The story goes way beyond a trophy and a title. It's about years of dedication and team work that is being so enthusiastically received and cheered by our community.

Bowling is the game that is finding renewed attention because of this group of young people along with their coaches and supporters; All of a sudden we are starting to rediscover this little changed ancient game that has only been enhanced and made easier through technology.

Coach Sue Rothzen, assisted by her husband Ron have for the last several years given so much more than just their time. It has been her unrelenting dedication that has shaped our young people into today's champions, giving them opportunities they could not have imagined had it not been for their selfless generosity that they have provided over the years to many young bowlers in the community.

Many have spent an afternoon or an evening playing with either family or friends throwing balls at 10 pins. Something has to really go wrong if everyone doesn't have a good time while at the same time getting some great exercise.

In a screen oriented society, I haven't found any games that offer the universal individual challenge of accuracy and focus that bowling does. Our Champions have caused us to give a second look at this old sport. In this game you are for the most part competing with yourself and working on your own average.

Our West Central boys champions got to state by working on developing their whole selves which includes developing mental focus and physical abilities that can only come through hard work, team encouragement, and mentoring.

This year the West Central Team captured the Sectional Championship with an incredible last game. It began with the Heat one point up and ended with the team 164 points ahead Of Alton, a school with 2234 students as compared to West Central's 317.

The Heat will be on their way to O'Fallon and the St Clair Bowl where the State Championships will be held starting Thursday for practice, and beginning Friday with the qualifying competition, and the final 12 teams sorting it all out on Saturday for the State Champs.

It is a David and Goliath story, with five juniors, one freshman, one sophomore and one senior from West Central going up against schools many times their size. Yet one by one the competition has already fallen to this team.

Five years ago, Sue and her husband Ron brought the idea of a school bowling team into being and then nurtured and promoted it into a team recognized across the state with this year's boys team being real contenders.

Two teams of 19 boys and 12 girls making up almost 10% of the student body, are the result of one family's vision of what could happen if given the opportunity. Three students have been offered scholarships to colleges on their bowling abilities and that says a great deal for the tangible results to this community.

The Heat is truly a young enthusiastic group of hard working competitors with two can-do coaches-truly a Treasure in the Heartland for us all to appreciate. They have motivated us to not only cheer for them, but to perhaps play and win through this fun form of play and exercise.

Congratulations 2010 Sectional Champs! Heat up the lanes in O'Fallon at St. Clair Bowl.