Bowling team has eyes on state championship

With the bowling season in full swing, the Tigers are looking to make a strike for the state title.  

Head Coach Brad Baker has his team focused, and said he is not at all scared of the high expectations of the team.

“I think the expectations are always high for teams at Cedar Falls and that’s part of what I love about coaching here. The student body, the administration and the community give lots of support, and in turn they have high expectations. I think we as a team handle that by trying to focus on making sure that every time we get a chance to practice or compete that we learn something and continue to improve throughout the season,” Baker said.

Co-team captain Matt Venem sets the bar at the state championship and knows if they want to make it, everyone must be focused.

“My personal goals for the season are for us to make it to the state championship and get there by the team averaging 3,000 (200 game average). To reach these goals, I plan to have every bowler bowl every practice as if it was a meet and always try their best,” Venem said.

Making sure every bowler is focused and getting better is only part of Venem’s job as co-team captain.  As a captain, he has constant expectations to meet and must set the example for the rest of the team. 

“One of the best and worst parts about being a team captain is that everyone is looking up to you to be a good role model because if you work hard and focus, they’re more likely to work hard and stay focused, but if you mess around, they will most likely also mess around and lose focus. I like the pressure because it makes me want to work as hard as I can because I know everyone is looking up to me,” Venem said.

With being a team captain comes the responsibility to instill a positive mindset in his teammates. 

“In bowling, you have to have the mindset of ‘I can get a strike/spare’ because the moment you lose all belief in yourself, there’s little to no chance you’re going to achieve your goal. You’re able to get that mindset because you have your team to help cheer you on and help you out so you continue to have that thought of ‘I can,’” Venem said.

While bowling can be taken very seriously, Venem and Baker both agree that the joy of bowling comes from the people you play it with and the ability to play no matter how old you are.

“The best part about bowling is the sportsmanship and camaraderie between teammates and even opponents,” Baker said. “We congratulate each other if someone throws a good shot even if they are competing against us. Another thing I love about bowling is the teams don’t play defense against each other. It’s just you versus yourself, and you have to make the best shot you can each time you get up there. I have been around bowling since I was probably 10 years old. It’s just a fun game that you can continue to do no matter how old you are.”

“My favorite part of bowling is that you can do it any time of day with any number of people, and it’s just a fun place to hang out with friends to take my face away from my phone,” Venem said.

The Tigers are off to a solid start and will push to accomplish their goal of making the state championship. Baker is confident that, with consistent practice and continued hard work, this team will be a very dangerous team. 

“We are 3-1 right now with our only loss to Waterloo West, who is currently third in 3A. I think the team is making good strides each week. They are continuing to work on their spare shooting and being able to make adjustments to lane conditions, and as that continues to get better, this team will be very tough to beat by the end of the season.”

The team’s next meet is this Friday at home against Iowa City High.

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