For competitive bowlers, the game poses as much of a mental challenge as it does a physical challenge. That’s what members of the Noblesville High School bowling team appreciate about the sport.
The NHS bowling team consists of 10 boys and is one of 11 high school teams competing in the White River Valley 1 Conference. The team is coached by Eldon Wilson and competes in the White River Valley 1 Conference, the second-largest bowling conference in the state, according to its director, Celena Wilson. She is also Eldon Wilson’s wife.
The NHS team competes weekly at various bowling centers, including Championship Lanes in Anderson; Bowl 32 in Noblesville; Lucky Strike in Elwood; Wells Lanes in Elwood; and Norwood Bowl in Alexandria. The team practices once a week at Bowl 32 in Noblesville.
Practices for the season started in mid-September and the regular season began Oct. 11. The regular season ends Jan. 7, followed by sectionals, regionals, semistate and the state finals.
Eldon has been the NHS coach for two years. Celena said the couple got involved in high school bowling when their son, Zach Wilson, was part of the NHS program. They continued to be involved after their son graduated.
“(My son) really enjoyed it. It was kind of something away from school that he could get in, be around friends and have fun and actually be proud of (his) accomplishments,” Eldon said.
Eldon’s chief motivation for coaching the team is to ensure the continuation and strength of the program.
Eldon said the team has received school support, and a teacher sponsors the team. The team has a teacher who is a sponsor, and other teachers and the athletic director have supported the team by attending matches, he said.
The Wilsons said one of their goals is to raise awareness about the team at the school, because many students don’t know about it.
“Our sport will only grow if we continue to promote it,” Celena said. “It’s not a mainstream sport. So, a lot of people don’t think about it, or they don’t even think of bowling as a sport.”
Celena’s favorite part of managing the conference is helping develop the next generation of bowlers. She said she loves seeing the students’ excitement and “seeing how much work the kids are willing to put in.”
During matches, Eldon said bowlers have to tune everything out and concentrate on the task at hand. He said there is more to bowling than simply rolling the ball toward the pins. He said bowlers think about how the lanes are oiled, the environment and the location of the lanes, among other considerations.
“A lot of kids think it’s physical because you throw a ball,” Eldon said. “But, no, it’s mental because it’s repetition. It’s hitting the same spots or close to that.”
One of Eldon’s favorite moments as a coach was when NHS bowler Cayden Russel bowled a perfect 300 game during sectional play on Jan. 14, 2023.
“Anybody can pick up a ball and throw it down the lane,” Celena said. “But to attain high scores and high averages takes work, it takes skill development and it takes education.”
The Wilsons also coach in a middle school league and a youth program at Bowl 32, which Celena manages.
For more, visit the Noblesville HS Bowling Facebook page.
The youth program at Bowl 32
Celena Wilson is the director of the youth bowling program at Bowl 32. The group meets at 9:45 a.m. every Saturday. Bowlers range in age from 2 to 19.
The program is separate from the high school and middle school teams at Noblesville Schools.
The youth program has three divisions: bumpers for the youngest kids, bantams for kids who don’t need assistance and juniors for higher level and older bowlers.
The youth program is also part of the Smart Program, which is a scholarship fund for bowlers in the youth program. Scholarships are partially funded by money from weekly fees.