The United States Bowling Congress has seen a steady growth in the number of bowlers at the high school and collegiate level during the past few seasons, and the participation in another youth program has reached an all-time high.
The USBC Junior Gold program recently set a record for most memberships sold in a season. At the end of April, Junior Gold membership stood at 3,407 and more youth bowlers are expected to join before the membership year ends July 31.
"It's encouraging for the bowling industry to see growth in this highly-engaged teenage segment that is likely to be lifelong bowlers," said Chad Murphy, IBC Director of Youth Development. "We are working to enhance programs targeted toward younger kids with one of the goals to keep moving youth bowlers toward Junior Gold."
More than 1,700 participants already have qualified for the 2011 Junior Gold Championships presented by Brunswick, scheduled for July 9-15 in Las Vegas, Nev., and Murphy projects the tournament will be one of the largest in the event's history. The largest field for a Junior Gold Championships was in 2009, when nearly 2,000 members participated in the event in Indianapolis.
"Our partners at Brunswick have helped develop this event into a great competition and an opportunity to earn scholarship money. These are some of the reasons we continue to see more youth bowlers become involved in Junior Gold," Murphy said. "The event is a destination for college coaches and bowling's top brands because the USBC Junior Gold Championships is the place to connect with sport's future leaders."
The Junior Gold Program was launched in the 1997-98 season for high-average USBC Youth bowlers. Each year at the Junior Gold Championships, athletes compete for more than $125,000 in scholarships and try to earn a spot on Junior Team USA.
USBC Youth bowlers must establish a minimum USBC Youth average - 150 for girls, 175 for boys - before they can apply for Junior Gold membership.
To learn more about USBC Junior Gold, visit BOWL.com/juniorgold.