ARLINGTON, Texas - Eight youth bowlers experienced a Team USA atmosphere this weekend after being selected to take part in The National Bowling Association's Youth Weekend at the International Training and Research Center.
The TNBA Youth Weekend, now in its seventh year of existence, allows youth bowlers the chance to experience training sessions, drills, exercises and classroom instruction led by the Team USA coaching staff.
The program is under the guidance of TNBA/ITRC Weekend Project Coordinator Barbara Council-Armstead, who founded the program in 2010. Other TNBA officials who were at the ITRC included USBC Silver coach Donald Armstead II, the Philadelphia High School Bowling Program Chair, and Veronica Green, the TNBA National Junior Program Director.
"One reason we started this program was to increase the visibility of athletes that normally wouldn't have access to this type of training and technology," Council-Armstead said. "In seven years, I've seen the success of this program measured through the individuals that are now out on the collegiate level, and those who have gone through the collegiate bowling program. It's been a successful endeavor."
The bowlers who were selected to attend this year's TNBA Youth Weekend are: Jessie Brown, Philadelphia; Tristan Leyen, Baltimore; Mason Moore, Denver; Lanasia Neal and Alize Stevenson, Newark, New Jersey; Reginald Petty, Chicago; Pamela Warr and Jasmin Whitaker, Chesapeake, Virginia.
Stevenson, 17, has been bowling for 11 years and was unable to attend this year's Junior Gold Championships. The opportunity to train at the ITRC this weekend helps make up for it.
"I feel honored," Stevenson said. "Just having this opportunity gave me a lot more confidence. Maybe I can use this to my advantage, learn more, get better and tweak whatever is wrong with my game. I'm just blessed. I feel good about this weekend."
Neal, 16, is coming off a New Jersey individual state bowling championship and is looking forward to the opportunity to share her new-found knowledge with her high school teammates during the upcoming season.
"I feel this experience will also help better my teammates at school," Neal said. "Since I'm here, I can share what I learn with them to make us better as a team. I also want to get better as a bowler because I would like to be like my coach, Matt O'Grady."
The 16-year-old Petty is excited to work on his game and take in the experience of training at the ITRC.
"It means a lot to me because I love bowling," Petty said. "It gives you an experience that most people don't get every day. It also give you a chance to see different things that you wouldn't normally see at your usual bowling center."
Moore, 16, is following in the footsteps of his brother, Morgan, who was selected to participate in the 2014 TNBA Youth Weekend. He plans to use this experience to help him improve and reach his goals of competing collegiately and professionally.
"It's cool because I can brag to my brother now," Mason Moore said. "He was selected to come two years ago and now I can share the same experiences. It's just really cool. It's a good learning experience and an opportunity to improve my game. I want to follow my brother to Midland University, bowl collegiately for four years and then go on (PBA) tour.
To learn more about the TNBA Youth Weekend requirements and about the organization, visit TNBAinc.org.