DePaul Prep Bowling: Success and support in a growing sport

Heart beating fast, I took the steps up to the line. I slowly released my arm and watched as the pins toppled down. Strike! That’s the moment I knew I wanted to make the bowling team; when my focus and attitude allowed me to get the best results. From 33 at my first and probably worst game to 153, my best game, every moment has been enjoyable and fun. 

Like a lot of freshmen, I was excited to try out different sports at DePaul Prep. I went to the bowling information meeting where it became clear that many girls were interested in the sport this year — so much so that it would lead to the first ever cuts in the team’s history.

Many people do not know that much about the bowling team at DePaul, if they know about it at all. The boys bowling team has been around for 15 years, while the girls team has been competing for more than five. This year two bowlers on the boys team went to Sectionals: Matthew Orlow and James Kolpak. Orlow’s average over the course of six games was 216, a number that qualified him for the state tournament where he averaged 186. He was the first bowler from DePaul College Prep to go to state.

Senior Nell Harte and Junior Lola Carpenter also advanced to Sectionals from the girls team and have yet to compete. 

Mr. Hohrein, a history teacher at DePaul College Prep, has been the coach of the boys team since 2006. In 2015, a girls team was added. Over the years the bowling team has expanded a lot, especially this year. Mr. Hohrein said, “Because of school size both the teams have always been a rag-tag assembly of students; some…experienced, soon who may have joined ironically, but who found themselves really enjoying the experience.”

Hohrein went on to say that “interest in the team has skyrocketed,” commenting on the fact that the new bowlers this year are greater than the total roster size from the past season.

When it comes to goals for this year and the future, Hohrein wants to make sure everyone has the playing-time to have fun but he still wants the team to be competitive. One of his future goals is to send a girl bowler to State.

Being on the bowling team is not like a birthday party. As Mr. Hohrein describes it, “Most people think about bowling and they imagine that one birthday party they attended when they were in grade school…pitchers of root beer, nacho cheese, bumpers, neon spheres with ill-fitting holes, and somebody else’s tacky shoes…it’s the competing side that I wish others could experience.”

His favorite part is when, “two schools are locked in a heated back-and-forth, where every strike brings elation, every spare is nail-biting, and every miss is felt by the whole tea, there is nothing quite like it.” 

Coach Walt, a softball coach at DePaul, is the new JV girls bowling team coach. He coached his two daughters in bowling during high school and was excited to join DePaul Prep’s team when there was an opening. His favorite part of coaching bowling is seeing players get better throughout the season. His goal is to have a practice team to “add confidence and the competitive spirit to our teams.”

Bowling is a competitive sport and fun. I enjoy having fun. And I love to coach,” Walt said.

What most people do not realize about bowling, is that it is time-consuming and takes practice like every other sport. It involves tryouts of several days and there are usually a few games and a practice every week. Bowling also involves strategy, much more than just chucking a ball down a lane and hoping it hits some pins. Each game is on the weekday and bowlers usually don’t return home until 7:30 or 8:00 at night.

The team always enjoys cheering each other on, through thick or thin during a game. My own experience with bowling started this year. I had not bowled since one of my classmate’s bowling parties years ago. In my first game, I got a 33 out of a possible 300 points. I was mortified. After getting help from Coach Walt and Mr. Hohrein, in my second game I got a 93. While there were ups and downs, I enjoy every moment of it.

For Liv, a freshman, bowling has offered opportunities for learning and friendships. “I met some amazing teammates and learned so much about bowling as a sport,” she said.

Zoe, also a freshman, noted the support that bowlers provide each other. “Everyone in bowling is supportive, social, absolutely wonderful to be around. Everyone here loves everybody else, and that’s wonderful,” she said.

Maybe that is the thing that makes bowling so great: the support everyone has for each other. Even during tryouts, teammates cheered on other teammates even if they were doing badly and the other person was 50 points ahead. Even with the season over, we are all looking forward to next year.