ARLINGTON, Texas - A record number of youth bowlers will take part in the North Pointe Junior Gold Championships next month in Indianapolis, and the United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold program already has established a membership record for the 2011-12 season.
The 2012 North Pointe Junior Gold Championships presented by Brunswick has sold 2,088 spots, shattering the previous record of 1,980 set in 2009, also in Indianapolis. It is a 14-percent increase over last year's mark of 1,821 entries.
The USBC Junior Gold program has more than 4,000 members for the first time in the program's 15-year history, a 12-percent increase over last season's total, also a record.
The North Pointe Junior Gold Championships was created by combining the Bowling Proprietors' of America North Pointe High School Championships and the USBC Junior Gold Championships into one national singles championship event with four divisions - U20 boys, U20 girls, U15 boys, U15 girls.
Chad Murphy, International Bowling Campus Managing Director of Youth Development, said while the change was dramatic, it allowed for a scholarship pool of $250,000 and opened the field to more youth bowlers. More than 300 participants for this year's North Pointe Junior Gold Championships qualified in the new U15 division.
"The folks who were passionate about both events have supported this new event in an unbelievable way," Murphy said. "Our goal is to create lifelong bowlers and, because of their support, a larger group of kids will benefit. In Indianapolis this summer, we'll get to celebrate this success when we crown four champions and build the foundation for Junior Team USA. It has been exciting and fun to see it all come together."
This season, 507 centers held 836 qualifiers, up from the 337 centers that held qualifiers last season. Murphy said the support of tournament coordinators throughout the country also was a key factor to the record-setting numbers.
"Their dedication and belief in what we are doing, along with the work of the IBC Youth Development team and the support of North Pointe Insurance and Brunswick, has only strengthened the Junior Gold program," Murphy said.
The first Junior Gold tournament, then called the USA Junior Gold National Bowling Championships, was held in 1998 at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., and drew 538 participants.
The 2012 North Pointe Junior Gold Championships will be held July 14-20 at Woodland Bowl, Western Bowl and Expo Bowl in Indianapolis. In addition to the $250,000 scholarship pool, participants also will be vying for spots on Junior Team USA.
Go to BOWL.com/juniorgold to learn more about the tournament and the Junior Gold program.