The Ohio High School Athletic Association recently approved sanctioning bowling as a varsity sport beginning with the 2006-07 school year.
Kathy Demarko is the dean of high school bowling coaches in Clermont County.
“It’s about time. It’s taken forever,” said Demarko who has been at the helm of the Glen Este High School program that began six years ago. “It is the only sport that is for people that are three years old or 103 years old. It’s the most visible sport in the world.
“At Glen Este bowling has been treated like a regular sport,” she said lauding the support given by GE athletic director Dan Simmons.
Amelia High School, being the other high school in the West Clermont School District, has also had a bowling program for six years.
“At Amelia bowling’s been treated like a regular high school sport,” said Baron head coach Tony Kellerman. “This sport gives kids who may not be the best athletes a chance to compete in a high school sport. It gives these kids an opportunity to have fun and learn to develop a team attitude and team spirit.
“Having the sport recognized by the state is good for the kids by now having a championship to bowl for. It’ll help recruiting for the team, too.”
“You don’t really need to be an athlete. Bowling can include any person. Being able to compete in a sport is so important, it helps self worth and self enhancement,” said Tom Huber, coach of the GE boys varsity.
“I never had this opportunity when I was in high school. These kids now have a chance to work for and earn a scholarship.”
Frank Ritzmann has been the head coach at Milford High School since the program began four years ago.
He said, “It’s great especially when it’s an official, recognized sport. For the kids it gives them an official tournament and a natural state recognized trophy.
“We were a club here for two years and the last two years we’ve been giving out letters. This should help us get more kids out. We’ve had eight varsity boys and eight varsity girls and the rest of the kids out were on the (junior varsity).”
The upcoming season should bring major victories for some of the county’s varsity bowling squads.
Demarko said, “The boys should be pretty strong. Most of the team has JV experience, but no varsity experience.”
Setting the pace for the Trojans for the upcoming season will be senior four-year letterman Matt Clyburn who will captain the Purple and White. Last year he averaged 182. Senior three-year letterman Kevin Briggs averaged 178, sophomore Michael Jones 168, sophomore Zach Romohr 150, and junior Shane Simpson 150-plus.
“The girls have the experience to get stronger. They have the potential to be strong,” Demarko said.
Junior Noelle Beagle will be the top returnee with her 162 average of a year ago, junior captain Katie Georg averaged 141, senior Sarah Haven 135, senior Terri Reed 130, sophomore Dana Hutchinson 125, and junior Rachel Ruehlman 120.
At the Barony, Kellerman expects that, “This will be a big year for us. I expect us to do well in state. We will go as far as Josh (Kellerman) can go. We have all five of our starters back.”
Kellerman, a senior, is the coach’s son. The two-time Fort Ancient Valley Conference Buckeye Division all-star averaged 200 pins a game last year. The remainder of the veteran returnees are senior Chris Pfaffroth with a 178, sophomore Wes Lukemire 178, senior Jared Ratzlaff 170, and sophomore Caleb Magness 170.
“I want the girls to be more competitive. We need more girls to come out for the team,” Kellerman said.
The Amelia girls will be led by sophomore Amber Kellerman (the coach’s daughter) with her 130 average, senior Amy Schmidbauer 118, senior Elizabeth Fuhrmeister 115, and senior Brittany Runner 100.
The assistant coaches for the Blue and White are Don Newkirk, Trish Kellerman, and Kirk Merman.
At the Aviary, Ritzmann expects to be doing some rebuilding.
“We have three varsity guys back and one JV,” he said.
The varsity vets are senior Eric McMullen who sported a 184 average a year ago, senior Chris Wenzlaff 178, and senior Taylor Varney 165. Varney, last season, became the first Eagle to qualify for the regional level of competition. The junior varsity kegler returning to the fold will be junior Steve Fannin who rolled a 151 average.
“The girls will be rebuilding. We were almost all seniors last year,” the Red and White mentor said.
Brittany Jacobs, a junior, will be returning with her 126 average, Sami Klingshirn, a sophomore, 123, and Katie King, a junior, 121.