Something clicked right away when Lincoln Lanes bowlers Bayise Gibson and Charleigh Lemay were paired as a bantams girls doubles team. Coach Kara Kazimer saw it.
The two have been magic all season, winning the zone championship in Kelowna and following that up by capturing the provincial Youth Bowling Council (YBC) bantam girls doubles title, which earns them a trip to the YBC National Finals in Ottawa, starting today.
“They are sweet; I love them both,” said coach Kazimer who, like her protegées, is making her first official trip to the YBC Nationals (Kazimer went as a bowling mom to cheer on her son, Alex, two years ago, and qualified herself as a teenager for the YBC provincials in “Cranbrook or somewhere; I just remember the bus breaking down.”).
“They have the best attitude. It’s been a pleasure to coach them to the provincials, and happy they qualified for nationals.”
Happy might be an understatement.
Kazimer felt Gibson and Lemay were in a great position to win the provincial title after the second of four games. When it was confirmed after the fourth game, Kazimer told the girls’ parents that she wasn’t telling them their result until the banquet.
“The girls felt they had done well but after they announced the bronze- and silver-medalists, they weren’t sure,” said Kazimer. “When they announced their names for gold, they were on the podium before they finished announcing their names. They were so excited.”
Gibson and Lemay set the new four-game team record with a 1,302 score at provincials, and a new high single team score of 361.
Lemay, 11, a Grade 5 Harwood student, is the veteran of the duo. She’s been bowling for three years, joining the likes of her mom, grandmother and “everyone else in the family.”
“We have our own shoes and balls that say ‘Lemay,’” said Charleigh. “My pink balls say ‘Char L.’ The family’s are all grey.”
Gibson, 10, a Grade 5 student at Okanagan Landing Elementary, is a bowling rookie.
“My mom convinced me to give it a try,” said the soft-spoken Gibson, who was dashing from bowling to piano practice. “She bowled here (Lincoln Lanes) when she was a kid.”
The pair have mutual respect for one another.
“She’s nice, a very good teammate. She makes me feel relaxed,” said Gibson of Lemay.
Added Lemay of Gibson: “She’s fun and nice. She’s good at pumping me up in a tournament and when I’m nervous she gets me to think of something different.”
With their Teddy Bear good luck charms, provided by coach Kazimer, the girls hope to duplicate their provincial success at nationals.
“I think we could get a medal,” said Lemay. “That would be really cool.”
Across the Ottawa River, in Gatineau, Que., is the YBC National Bantam Boys Singles championships, where Lincoln Lanes’ Aidan Buckley is representing B.C., having won the provincial title in Kamloops, for a second time.
Buckley, a 10-year bowler, won bronze in 2013 in Surrey/Langley. He’s coached this year by Viki Dumont.
“I’m really excited nationals are somewhere outside of B.C.,” laughed Buckley, a Grade 9 Vernon Secondary student.
A right-hander with a 202 average, Buckley feels his 2013 experience will serve him well in Quebec.
“I think so,” he said. “I’ve dealt with the pressure and I know how intense it can be.”
His mom, Lena, will be cheering from the stands.
“She’s been great, really supportive,” said Buckley, a huge pasta lover. “So has everyone at Lincoln Lanes. Everybody has been wishing me well.”