An open letter for our youth

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

Dear parent, grandparent, athletic directors, coaches and proprietors –

This past weekend at the OHSAA Kickoff Classic at the Palace in Columbus five teams from the WOHSBC Ladies Division, Shawnee, Wapak, St Marys, Versailles and Coldwater qualified for the round of 16 — an amazing honor in what is always a competitive event. Although reports have not been made official indications are that there was similar success on the young mens side of the tournament.

While the elite teams of last season were competing in Columbus, Lima Senior High held the Spartan Invitational at 20th Century Lanes. Lima Bath and Lima Shawnee defeated the young men and women of Lima Senior High in the ladies and men’s divisions respectively over an extremely difficult condition. I mention the condition only because it speaks to the core purpose of this letter.

While there were several quality bowlers that were scratching their heads and probably even moaning a little on the inside, I did not hear a single complaint from the bowlers nor did I see a ball slammed down or a machine abused.

There are some incredible coaches in the area that are doing some great things for and with the youth in our junior bowling programs as well as on the different bowling teams.

As a parent and a grandparent, they are these coaches are the type of individuals that I want my children and grandchildren to be around. They have an incredible grasp of what it is that our youth are going through and they are driven through the belief in those youth to help them succeed.

In our next column we will get more into length regarding the conversation that I had with Chris Geise of Shawnee and Beth Edwards of Bath but it was the observation of two young coaches Steph Lowry and Eyon Berney as well as the remarks of the now grizzled veteran Mike Kirian that lingered in my mind following two most interesting days at 20th.

Berney stepped in for Kirian in the coaching duties on Saturday, once he was assured that Mike would always be in earshot. Eyon had an interesting role on Saturday, coaching a Lima Senior High team in its Invitational event one year after his graduation. Yep, he was coaching his former teammates. Interestingly enough, leadership is an element that school sports develops in may be more easily on display in the sport of bowling. The ability to perform can be vividly seen on the scoresheet.

Eyon succeeded. There was no horseplay, the bowlers were not running to go find Mike for tips, they seemed locked into whatever it was that Eyon was trying to get across to them.

Lowry clearly brought more experience into her huddle. She has been assisting at St Marys for a handful of years now if I recall. What Steph dared to do however was to bring the junior varsity squad to this dance.

Where the Berney squad nearly pulled off the upset of what some would say was a heavily favored Shawnee team, Lowry finished third in the ladies division challenging Lima Senior to the end.

Again with Lowry it was the demeanor of the youth, how they were locked in on every thing that she said. Reasonable goals and expectations (including – let’s have some fun) were set and the young Lady Roughriders went home as champions.

Eyon and Step you can lead my children and grandchildren at any time and I would like to think that they parents to students at Lima Senior and St Marys would feel the same way.

This takes us to Kirian.

The pattern that was used for the tournament on Sunday was a the very difficult Kegel pattern – Taj Mahal. Yes to those already in the know the same pattern that is going to be used in the upcoming Lima City Singles. It is the same pattern that has left many adults demonstrating the kinds of negative behavior that the youth did not show this past Saturday.

Mike, please Mike tell me why did you torture the youth so?

“Our youth face difficult challenges every day.”

What a great response very typical of the awareness that our coaches have for the needs and happenstances of the youth in the program.

As we spoke, we continued along the same lines. We discussed the role of the coach as a mentor and somebody that the youth can turn to when there is a need that he or she cannot get addressed. We talked of study tables and square meals. We talked of how this sport can help individuals become leaders in their schools and on their teams. There were different times in the conversation that he would immediately give Berney the floor for his view. There was an obvious reference or two made to Eyon’s development as a leader.

The two of them then pointed to the leadership growth of another, Jarrett Smith.

It was about this time last year that Lima Senior broke out their salute to Autism Awareness shirts and how sharing time with Jarrett had made them so aware of the needs of the disorder.

“I am so happy that we have Jarrett, he is a leader, always high-fiving somebody after a great shot or picking up a teammate when things have not gone well for them. We are a better team because of him!”

In closing my inclusion of proprietors in the salutation of the letter was merely a formality. They already get it.

Thankfully we have a strong core of parents and AD’s that get it as well demonstrated by the ten middle school teams that competed at 20th on Sunday in that realm of the WOHSBC.

If you are not a school with a team or if you are a program that wants to go deeper then supply the magic or our successful programs.

M.A.G.I.C .merely reguires …. Make A Greater Individual Commitment.

Come see me at the lanes and let’s see what we can do

Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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