ARLINGTON, Texas - For the fourth consecutive year, youth bowlers and coaches from The National Bowling Association were welcomed to the International Training and Research Center on Friday to kick off TNBA Youth Weekend.
The TNBA group features eight youth bowlers, four coaches and four association officials, including Gregory P. Green, TNBA president. While at the ITRC, the bowlers and coaches were given the chance to go through training sessions and exercises similar to the ones used a week ago during Team USA training camp.
USBC Managing Director of Operations and Administration Eric Kearney, who is also the USBC's diversity officer, says the youth weekend is a great opportunity for Team USA to be exposed to some of the country's top youth talent that it may not normally have the chance to see.
"The TNBA Youth Weekend, in conjunction with USBC and the International Bowling Campus, is an initiative in its fourth year that's looking to build the future of youth bowling," Kearney said. "We are also looking for potential Junior Team USA members from places where we might not get the exposure to them.
"The TNBA has some of the best youth talent in our country. This program gives us the opportunity to expose these talented athletes to our training facility, and gives us a chance to get to know them as athletes, as well as people."
As the group broke for lunch, it was joined by former and current Team USA members Tennelle Milligan, Stefanie Nation, Shannon O'Keefe and Erik Vermilyea for a question-and-answer session.
"The game has a mental aspect to it and there's a lot of preparation that goes into it," Vernon Billington II of Hartford, Conn., said. "Listening to them talk, you realize you can't just get up one day and decide you're going to bowl. You've got to put the work into it."
Along with Billington at the ITRC are Jalesa Johnson of Delmar, Del.; Amoni Knight of Dover, Del.; Olivia Laird of Middletown, Del.; DeAndre McKinley and Anthony Richmond of Memphis, Tenn.; Qwadaris Rembert of Providence, R.I.; and Cydnee Toland-Holmes of Lansdowne, Pa.
Johnson said along with the training she's received from the Team USA coaching staff, she enjoyed learning more about the history of the sport while visiting the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.
"It has been an experience to be able to come out and be with a select few from a pool of 3,000 people," Johnson said. "It's been an honor to be here and get the best training in the world. The museum was really cool, too. It has a lot of hands-on activities and we learned how much bowling has evolved since its beginnings."
Barbara Council-Armstead, a USBC silver level coach and TNBA/ITRC Weekend Project Coordinator, said that, once again, the information offered by the Team USA coaching staff and members has resonated with the TNBA youth bowlers.
"The experience is as wonderful as it has been for the past three years," Council-Armstead said. "You can see their eyes light up with information. They've been learning new skills or hearing reinforcement from what they learn at home. They're enthusiastic and it's exciting for me to watch them because I know they're going to take this experience and relate it to their peers to let them know what a wonderful situation this is."
TNBC was founded in 1939 by African Americans and its mission is a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship, fellowship and friendship within its ranks and throughout the world of bowling. TNBA membership and tournaments are open to everyone. Go to TNBAinc.org to learn more about the organization.
TNBC coaches include Donald Armstead II, a USBC silver certified coach, Vernon Billington of Hartford, Conn.; Sheryl Hayes of Memphis, Tenn.; and Johnny Johnson of Delaware. TNBA officials are Green, Council-Armstead, TNBA Junior Program Director Veronica Green and Michael Boykins, TNBA past president.