Hard work, talent, teamwork takes bowling team to state tournament

Senior, junior qualifies for top level as individuals

The members of the state qualifying bowling team are as different as the colorful balls they use to knock down pin after pin. There are Madeline and Ashlynn. They giggle about being professional benchwarmers, but they are the cheerleaders of the team. There is Kael. He is kinda hesitant to talk about himself, but once he starts talking about bowling, he has a lot to say. Bapo is the joker. He jokes about a lot of things, but when he walks up the lane, he is very serious about the task at hand.  There is also Jayden. He is the first one to tell you that talent will only get you so far. He values hard work. And as he bowls with the top bowlers of the region, his hard work shows off. Brent is the freshman who takes advice from the experienced bowlers even after the tournament is over. Jaylin is the tall, serious one, and Hayden cannot wait to take the trip to San Antonio. Finally, the senior of the group is quiet and all business. Jaslyn packed four bowling balls for the regional tourney. Each one has a special job to help her make it back to state.

The Alleykats bowling team finished third in regionals on Sunday, qualifying for the state tournament in San Antonio on March 25-26 at Bandera Bowl. Senior Jaslyn Fox and junior Jayden Butcher also qualified as individual bowlers for the state meet. 

“My goal has always been to go to state,” junior Conner “Bapo” Mitchell said. “To make that goal took lots of practice. I go bowling all the time with the team, with my family and alone. I have a family of bowlers, and they all bowl so it’s like you just go as a family and hang out and get better.”

Other members of the team also credit practice and hard work to their success. Butcher knows the secret to his success is really not a secret at all. 

“Hard work in bowling is practice as much as you’re able to,” he said. “Some people that just come into the sport and they have a lot of talent. For others, it takes more practice. My advice is if you really want it,  you’re going to work hard enough to make it happen.”

My advice is if you really want it,  you’re going to work hard enough to make it happen.

— Jayden Butcher

Many members of the team are just learning the world of competitive bowling. What started out as just a hobby is something all together different after joining the team. 

“I have never bowled on a  competitive level before,” junior Ashlynn White said. “The team is very welcoming. Everybody supports everybody and everybody.”

The coaches help mold the bowlers into competitive team members. 

“The coaches teach us a lot of techniques,” junior Madalyn Gonzales said. “I mean like they really can take you from zero and really take you all the way.”

Bowlers also learn from other team members with more experience in the sport. 

“Well, Conner taught me to use two hands,” junior Kael Capps said. “It has helped. The team is just the best when we need help or support.”

Coach Jayson O’Bryant is impressed with the team for many reasons. He is not an employee of the school, and he does not have a family member on the team. He volunteers as coach because he loves the game, and he loves the team.

“I think this team is successful because they listen and have a work ethic,” O’Bryant said. “It is impeccable. Outside of scheduled practice, they have been in the bowling alley everyday bowling. Just bowling all night long to get better.”

For senior Jaslyn Fox, this trip to state is her last chance to make her mark as a high school bowler, but she does not plan on giving up on the game. 

“Basically, I need to mentally prepare,” Fox said. “My goal is to make it to the sweet 16 and make it to nationals. I would like to bowl in college. and my coach has a sponsor coming out to state.”

For assistant coach Coy McMinn, the team has no limits. He sees these individuals going far.

“They are a really good team,” he said. “Whoever on the team goes to college for bowling, I think they’re gonna dominate.”

After making it to state, the team members have one more goal this year. They want the school to know about the Alleykats. They want to share their victory with the school.

“I want people to know we are here,” Butcher said. “I want it to be known. I want it to be more out there. It’s a very underrated sport, and it’s a lot more fun when you take it seriously.”