While the Soo is known for producing top tier athletes across a multitude of sports, seldom know about the talent from the lanes.
So much so, Northcrest lanes is running out of room on their walls.
Each time a team places at an event, they’re awarded with a banner. The Soo has plenty more opportunities to fill the walls with the quickly approaching Youth Bowl Canada Championships from May 5th – 7th.
The Championships, which take place in Laval, Quebec, will feature members of Team Northern Ontario that are from our city.
Zaiden Luck, 11, Grade 6 student at Holy Family
Hannah McCaig, 12, Grade 7 at Our Lady of Lourdes
Ema Bowen,15, Grade 10 at Superior Heights.
All of which who have already qualified at the YBC Provincial tournament, which took place February 23rd in Thunder Bay.
Zaiden, who has been bowling since the age of 4, had bowling in his blood. Father TJ Luck, who has a helping hand in the coaching staff, had Zaiden following the family tradition. While Zaiden is excellent for his age, he has some work to do to catch up to his father and three other relatives perfect games of 300 which are proudly displayed at Northcrest Lanes.
Zaiden, who’s best game is a 191, came first place in both the provincial qualifier and the provincials themselves, has set himself up for success come May.
“I want to bowl good, I hopefully want to come top three but if I don’t, I’m not too worried”, Zaiden said ahead of his first trip to Nationals. “A successful weekend would be 1st or 2nd, but I’d be happy with third”.
Hannah has learned already how important it is to overcome nerves. “The first time at provincials I was really nervous but by four games in I was out there just having fun”.
When asked on her expectations for herself at the biggest event of her young career she simply replied “No, not really” “I’m just having fun.”.
“My family has been helping me stay focused, stay positive, and stay confident.” While counterpart Zaiden has bowling as a family affair, Hannah did not pull any punches when asked if her parents were talented bowlers.
“My dad not so much, and my mom…not so much!” she said through a laugh.
Ema is the oldest of the group, had her family take notice of her skill early on.
“My papa was my biggest coach.” “It was more about having fun at the start, but as I proceeded to get older, it started getting more competitive.”
This year is important, and Ema knows that. She has a late birthday, giving her an advantage in her last year of “Junior Division” competition. The Junior category has ages 12-15, giving Ema an advantage in experience.
“This is my 8th nationals. I’ve come 2nd, 3rd, 4th, but never first. With this being my last year in junior I really want to win.”
With that many trips to major events, she has learned some valuable lessons.
“Getting upset does not help whatsoever because it’ll just affect the way you’re bowling as well as the people around you”.
At tournaments, Ema has faced criticism from parents in result of her form, which is nontraditional. She stands at the left side of the lane, and has the ball curve back in. “I bowl like a left handed bowler, but I’m right handed”.
“Last year parents were saying I shouldn’t be bowling in tournaments, and they got the judges to look at the rule book. It really affected my game.”
When asked what she would say to her critics:
“I bowl the way I bowl”.
Michael Corbett is one of the coaches at Northcrest, who’s a 16 year vet of the location.
“I just wanted to help and learn a bit from the kids” said Corbett, who has taken one trip as a coach to nationals.
The kids have taught the coach arguably as much as they’ve taught him. “They’ve showed me a lot. Even on the competitive side.” “You have to lighten up, you really have to learn how to lighten up and not take it all serious”.
Corbett says he wants to see his kids place in the top 50% percent. That would be a top 5 finish as there are 10 teams represented at the tournament. When it comes to advice? “Just go back to basics, you can’t go wrong with the basics.”
The tournament takes place in May 5th-7th in Laval, Quebec. You can stay up to date on how team Northern Ontario is doing during that time at https://ybcnationals.youthbowl.ca/.