Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station, N.Y., and the Lee County, Fla., school district have each been selected to receive $2,500 grants through the High School Grant Program of the Youth Education Services (YES) Fund.
The High School Grant Program, administered by the International Bowling Campus Youth Development team, provides grants for up to four high school programs annually. The high school teams must show financial need because of budget cuts or other changes, or may request funding to start a new program.
In the case of Lee County, the grant will go toward the cost of starting programs at 13 high schools. Lee County school system administrators voted to add bowling as a varsity sport in February after proprietors from six bowling centers of the Southwest Florida Bowling Proprietors Association agreed to fund the first five years of the programs. The projected cost for the first year is about $25,000.
"This is truly a program being built from the ground up," said Mike Cannington, director of operations and marketing for Bowland Centers, who spearheaded the effort to make bowling a varsity sport at Lee County schools along with Bill Hanson, James Browder, Herbert Wiseman and Herman Williams. "Not one of these schools had any sort of bowling program, not even a club sport. We are trying to accomplish a lot in a very short period of time - identifying new coaches, setting practice and match schedules, picking team uniforms ... the list goes on and on."
Proprietors Pat Ciniello of Bowland Cape Coral Lanes and Bowland Lehigh Lanes, Tanya Preisinger and Petra Mercantonio of Friendship Lanes, Kevin Walsh of Gator Lanes, Terry Leis of Pin Street Lanes, and Bill Hanson of All Star Lanes have agreed to pick up the all the costs of coaching and bowling shirts in addition to hosting practices and competitions.
Walt Whitman High School has had a boys bowling program since 2001 but the team learned in March that the school district would cut funding for several athletics programs for the 2011-12 school year, including bowling, golf and swimming.
Athletic Director James Wright said they began looking for ways to raise funds for next year and one of the parents, Patti Kielawa, found the information about the grant program.
"These funds will help defray some of the costs associated with the program," Wright said. "Our program runs about $12,000-13,000 per year and to be able to say to parents and athletes that 20 percent of the money needed was the result of a generous grant helps to take off some of the pressure."
The Wildcat Booster Club also has been helping the program. The club held a successful yard sale and bowl-a-thon fundraiser this summer. There are several other activities planned in the next few months.
The High School Grant Program is made possible through the YES Fund, a joint initiative of the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America and the United States Bowling Congress that is supported by founding partners Brunswick, Columbia 300, Ebonite, 900 Global, Hammer, QubicaAMF, Roto Grip, Storm and Track.
With grants to Lee County schools and Walt Whitman High School, the High School Grant Program has awarded its four grants for this year. Applications are continuously being accepted and four more grants will be available starting the first quarter of 2012.
Go to BOWL.com/highschool for information about the grant program and for the application.