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Youth bowlers still throwing strikes, despite pandemic

Young bowlers have been able to carry on relatively unaffected due to the nature of the sport
Williams Lake’s YBC Bowlers Remy LeBlanc (back from left), coach Kevin McAlpine, Kara-lynn McAlpine, coach Lindsey Kelley, coach Lisa McAlpine, Avrel Kidney (middle from left), Weston Kelly, Renee O’Hara, Lily Stewart, Brandon LeBlanc, Serena Kidney (front from left), Elsa Kunka and Colton Lendvoy have managed to carry on through the COVID-19 pandemic while following health guidelines. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Youth Bowl Canada (YBC) in Williams Lake has been rolling along safely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

With several sports forced to change or modify rules and practice regiments, young bowlers have been able to carry on relatively unaffected due to the nature of the sport outside of their normal out-of-town tournaments.

With a team of four coaches —Kevin McAlpine (junior), Lindsey Kelly (bantam), Jamie LeBlanc (peewee) and Lisa McAlpine — roughly 11 youth bowlers have been honing their skills in the sport since the season began in September at Cariboo Bowling Lanes.

“We did take a hit this year in terms of our numbers because of COVID, but it’s been going great,” Kevin said. “In some ways we’re able to provide more one-on-one coaching so it works out in that respect a little better.”

Working on skills and improvement has been the focus to date, with fun games mixed in throughout the weekly Thursday night practice sessions to keep things interesting for bowlers.

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Both Kevin and Lisa have bowled at a high level (Kevin is a national-level bowler, and Lisa is a masters-level bowler), and said they’ve enjoyed having two new coaches on board this year.

“It’s nice we’ve got a coach in each division and we’re able to just coach a little more, and hopefully when this is all over we can start getting our numbers back up for enrolment,” he said.

Currently, adults and their children are allowed to bowl at Cariboo Bowling Lanes, however, regular league bowling nights have been cancelled for the time being due to provincial health restrictions surrounding organized sports.

The bowling alley has also reduced its days of operation to Thursday through Sunday.

“We just want people to know we’re still running, and there are still fun things to do for the kids [despite the pandemic],” Kevin said. “It’s great fun and the kids enjoy it.”

Kevin said anyone interested in taking part in YBC bowling can do so by drop-in on Thursdays at 3:45 p.m., with bowling getting underway by 4 p.m.

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Elsa Kunka takes some advice from coach Lisa McAlpine Thursday, Feb. 18 during a Youth Bowl Canada practice at Cariboo Bowling Lanes. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Renee O’Hara, 11, shows off some good form during YBC practice last week. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Remy LeBlanc gets in a game during a regular Youth Bowl Canada (YBC) practice Thursday at Cariboo Bowling Lanes in Williams Lake. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Greg Sabatino

About the Author: Greg Sabatino

Greg Sabatino graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 2008.
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