In the days leading up to their main task at the 2014 World Bowling Youth Championships, the members of Junior Team USA have been on the lanes in Hong Kong hoping to leave their mark in a different way.
The eight Junior Team USA members, all first-timers at the World Youth Championships, were invited to join their counterparts from the event's host country in a series of events focused on philanthropy, coaching and a little competition.
The trio of events began Sunday with a charity bowling tournament that benefited a local group of hospitals. The pro-am-like tournament allowed bowlers to compete alongside members of Junior Team USA and Team Hong Kong for trophies and prizes.
"It has been a great experience to see so many people from a different place and how they all view the sport," said Junior Team USA member Mary Wells of Westerville, Ohio. "We definitely appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it and hope we have a lasting impact here."
Wells has been joined on the lanes at the Southern China Athletic Association Bowling Center by her teammates Liz Kuhlkin of Rotterdam, N.Y., Stephanie Schwartz of Racine, Wis., Sarah Lokker of New Baltimore, Mich., Wesley Low of Palmdale, Calif., Greg Young of Viera, Fla., Kamron Doyle of Brentwood, Tenn., and Matt Farber of Plainview, N.Y.
Monday's activity included a demonstration and coaching clinic for athletes from the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee and Sports Association for the Physically Disabled as well as bowlers from the Hong Kong Sports for the Mentally Handicapped.
The final day of the supporting events Tuesday included additional demonstrations and coaching for underprivileged children and secondary school students.
"Everyone here has been so welcoming, and it has been an honor to work with all of the different bowlers," Farber said. "We've had a great time meeting them and learning about the culture, and being here early also has helped us get acclimated to the environment and get comfortable at the bowling center."
The Junior Team USA members now will turn their attention to the World Youth Championships, which kicks off with a formal opening ceremony Wednesday night.
The field is expected to include bowlers from 46 countries who will compete in singles, doubles, team, all-events and match-play Masters. Competition officially begins with singles Friday.
Bowling fans from around the globe will be able to watch the competition live on BOWL.com's BowlTV thanks to a partnership between the United States Bowling Congress and the Hong Kong Tenpin Bowling Federation.