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Participants put to the test at Bowling Combine

Terry Bigham
USBC Communications
Published: August 8, 2013 | Bowl.com
ARLINGTON, Texas – It’s not summer school, but more than 100 youth bowlers are going through a rigorous testing process this week at the International Training and Research Center.

The 2013 Bowling Combine for College Prospects started Tuesday and will run through Saturday. The Bowling Combine, developed to bring together youth bowlers who want to compete at the collegiate level with college coaches looking for talented bowlers for their programs, is in its third year.

Using the state-of-the-art tools at the ITRC, the Team USA coaching staff is putting the student-athletes through tests to evaluate skills such as shot repeatability, release ratio, spare proficiency, breakpoint management, vertical leap, and balance.

“This is the program’s third year, but it has been in development for more than five years,” Team USA head coach Rod Ross said. “It’s nice to see how it has grown into a premier event for the college coaches and the players.”

Coaches from 30 collegiate programs are taking part in this year’s Combine, including Danielle Belobraydich, who was named Director of Bowling and women’s head coach at McKendree University last summer. She is attending her first Bowling Combine and plans to return each year.

“The talent level is great, and it’s a lot easier to watch the players here than at Junior Gold,” Belobraydich said. “We already are going home with a list of 20 players we want to recruit.”

Student-athletes who have collegiate eligibility remaining, and have completed at least their sophomore year in high school, were asked to submit an application to attend the Bowling Combine. Because of limited space, only 108 players – 48 girls and 60 boys – were selected to attend. The program has been at capacity each year.

The girls field for this year has a 3.5 grade-point average and 186 bowling average, while the boys field has a 3.43 GPA and 208 bowling average.

Gary Sparks of Vincennes University has led teams to 11 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship titles, and the Vincennes men’s team was runner-up at the 2013 NJCAA Championships. Three of his six incoming players for the 2013-2014 season were at the 2012 Bowling Combine.

He said the event always has pulled in talented bowlers but that the skill level between the upper and lower players continues to shrink.

“I go to a few other camps and clinics and obviously watch bowlers at tournaments, but this gives me a perspective of a tryout atmosphere,” Sparks said. “We don’t get a chance to see that in any other type of setting. You get a chance to really see the players, know who they are and get a one-on-one situation with them.”

While 30 states are represented, the Bowling Combine also is drawing bowlers from around the world. Bowlers from Aruba, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and Singapore are in attendance.

“We had players from South America attend in the past, and we now are starting to see players from Europe and Asia coming in,” Ross said. “It is a good educational opportunity for international players and more universities are starting to recruit international players.”

Also in the field are a few players making their second appearances at the Bowling Combine, including Anthony Inzetta of North Canton, Ohio, who will be a senior at Hoover High School this fall.

“I personally think I did a little better this year, but I also thought the overall talent was a lot better,” Inzetta said. “The first time around showed the weaknesses in my game, and I think over the last year it helped me focus on what I needed to improve on. I feel like I did improve.”

The student-athletes at the Bowling Combine Bowlers receive an objective analysis of their skills, including a Performance Evaluation Test (P.E.T.) score. The P.E.T. score can be used to compare not only those at this year’s Bowling Combine, but from previous years. The P.E.T score also can be used to compare all bowlers who have gone through the evaluation process at the ITRC, including Team USA players.

At the end of the Combine, bowlers receive a recruiting kit that includes video shots and bowler variables measured, plus a detailed report of personal data collected.

Coaches in attendance receive an evaluation of each bowler, plus have the opportunity for one-on-one contact with prospective student-athletes. Only coaches in attendance can receive the evaluations.

Visit BOWL.com/combine to learn more about the Bowling Combine.

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