Noles is ready for the national Youth Bowling Council championships in Oshawa.
So is Ry-no. And Kazzy. And Ace. And Coach.
“We decided we all needed nicknames for the nationals,” said Nolan (Noles) Blaeser, 10, as he and provincial bantam champion teammates Ryan (Ry-no) Sarantos, Drew (Ace) Fiset and Alex (Kazzy) Kazimer practised for nationals at their home Lincoln Lanes in Vernon under the watchful eye of Bob (Coach) Dumont.
The quartet qualified for the YBC National Finals May 2-4 in Oshawa, by winning the provincial championships at Scottsdale Lanes in Surrey.
For Fiset and Sarantos, it’s their second straight trip to the national finals. Their Lincoln Lanes team in 2014 – coached by Dumont – finished fifth.
For Sarantos, 10, a Grade 4 lefty with a 160 average, nationals were an eye-opener.
“It was very crowded,” said Sarantos, who loves waking up every Saturday to go bowling during the season, of the event in Winnipeg. “There was lots of yelling. It was fun to go on the bus to the lanes and we got to meet the other teams from the other provinces.”
Said Fiset, 11, a Grade 5 Lavington Elementary right-hander who carries a 175 average: “I learned a lot last year. I was expecting it to be easy and it wasn’t.
“I learned that I can’t get upset if I miss a shot. If you’re upset, you can’t do good in the nationals.”
That’s where the teammates come in. This foursome likes to make each other laugh. One, it helps relieve some of the pressure. Two, they love pulling pranks.
“We like to hit the reset button (which brings the pin guard down) when we see one of the guys rolling what looks like a strike,” laughed Sarantos.
Like his teammates, Kazimer has been bowling for about seven years. The Grade 5 Beairsto righthander with a 140 average hopes he and his teammates can return from Oshawa with medals around their necks.
“We’ve talked about it and it would be so great to be in the top-three,” said Kazimer, 11. “Coming home with a medal would be awesome.”
Blaeser, a Grade 4 Hillview student carries a 142 average. He credits his and the team’s success to Dumont.
“Coach lets us have fun,” said Blaeser, a right-hander. “I’ve learned a lot from him.”
To a person, the four bowlers love learning from Coach Bob. And the admiration is mutual.
“This group is a very positive group of boys,” said Dumont, 65, who began coaching 25 years ago when his daughter, Karin, began in YBC.
“They are all excellent bowlers. It is definitely nice to see these kids succeed. That’s what it’s all about. Seeing them succeed and carry on in bowling.”
Dumont, joined in the YBC coaching ranks at Lincoln Lanes by his wife, Viki, has guided a Vernon bantam team to three straight provincial titles, and three appearances at nationals.
While he hopes this year’s team can bring home a medal – the previous two have finished fourth and fifth – Dumont hopes the kids enjoy the atmosphere of competing at a Canadian tournament.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “The noise, the camaraderie, I really can’t explain it. It’s a great experience for the kids.”
The team has been practising twice a week for nationals. Fiset recently bowled five games with an average of 229 but the hottest member of the team may be Blaeser.
He rolled a 310 game in practice and, shortly after winning the provincial YBC team title, Blaeser teamed with Koen Hampshire to win a second provincial championship.
Blaeser and Hampshire won gold at the YBC Youth Doubles finals in Maple Ridge.
The Lincoln Lanes duo – coached by Bob Dumont – finished 182 pins over their combined averages to finish two points ahead of a team from Port Coquitlam.
Teams from Poco, Chilliwack, Kamloops, Castlegar, Duncan, Prince George, Trail, Burnaby, Nanaimo, Maple Ridge, Kelowna, Chase and Sidney competed in the four-game pins over average tournament.