Dear Editor:

As an avid follower of many high school sports — and a proud parent of a Decorah High School bowler — I was thrilled to open the November 14 issue of the Decorah Newspapers and find a good part of page B1  devoted to the schedule for area winter sports teams. “Welcome to Winter Sports” the headline proclaimed — and the article then proceeded to list the schedules for all area school sports teams: boys and girls basketball (check!), wrestling (check!), boys swimming (check!), and boys and girls bowling (check?).

I read through the article again — this time more carefully — and, to my surprise, there was no mention of the Decorah High School girls and boys bowling teams’ schedule anywhere in the article or elsewhere in the paper.

Don’t get me wrong: I applaud the paper for publicizing the many co-curricular activities (sports included) in which area high school and college students partake. And I am sure, as bowling is a somewhat new program at Decorah High School, that the omission of its schedule was just an oversight. Mistakes happen, and we’ve all made our fair share. That said, I would like to take this opportunity to share a bit of information about the DHS boys and girls bowling teams, coached by Keith Bruening (a former collegiate bowler at Iowa State University).

In 2016-17, DHS fielded bowling teams for both boys and girls for the first time; throughout the course of their season, they faced competitive teams across the state. This year, close to 30 DHS student-athletes are participating in bowling. As with most other student-athletes, they are expected to practice every weekday after school for several hours, as well as compete in meets throughout the season. (Practice and local meets, by the way, take place at Oneota Lanes, which has been a generous supporter of the DHS bowling program since its inception.) 

If you’ve never had the opportunity to view competitive bowling, you’re missing out — bowling is entertaining to watch, and the bowlers give it their all. Tournaments exist worldwide, and college scholarships are awarded for outstanding student-athletes in the sport. Bowling is also physically demanding — it’s much more than simply strolling up to a line and throwing a ball down a lane. From the way bowlers walk, to the way they release the ball, the mechanics are all carefully executed. 

More importantly, bowling is mentally challenging. Bowlers think about each shot, focus upon each move, and strategize before each release. And despite doing all this as part of a team, each bowler is completely alone at that line. Try being the last one up in a match, knowing that whether you bowl a strike or a spare is the difference between victory and defeat for your team. Yes, that’s intense pressure, and bowlers must learn how to manage it.

My point? Just like every other winter sport, bowling requires hard work and dedication, and the program and its student-athletes should be given the same recognition. Last year, in its inaugural season, bowling even contributed to the point total amassed by Decorah High School in winning the Class 3-A Traveling Challenge Cup, an award that measures the success of students in academics, fine arts and athletics in comparison to other schools throughout the state.

Whether or not you know a young student-athlete competing in bowling for Decorah High School this winter season, I encourage you to swing by Oneota Lanes in Decorah at 4 p.m. to check out the action on the following dates: December 8 (vs. Oelwein), January 5 (vs. Charles City), January 19 (vs. Forest City), February 2 (vs. Waverly-Shell Rock). 

Come cheer on the Decorah Vikings bowlers and, more importantly, support the effort they put into their sport of choice. 

Sara Friedl-Putnam