TNBA youth, coaches train at ITRC

ARLINGTON, Texas – Youth bowlers and coaches from The National Bowling Association had the opportunity to work with Team USA coaches at the International Training and Research Center as the 2012 TNBA Youth Weekend kicked off Friday.

Eight TNBA youth bowlers and seven coaches, including TNBA president Dr. Michael Boykins, were at the International Bowling Campus for the opportunity to go through training sessions much like those used by the ITRC staff during Team USA training camps. This is the third consecutive year TNBA youth bowlers and coaches have traveled to the ITRC, home of Team USA.

“This program is very important not only for TNBA but for USBC and how we come together as two organizations with one common goal – to increase the visibility of youth bowling,” said Eric Kearney, USBC Managing Director of Operations and Administration who also serves as USBC’s Diversity and Education Officer.

During their lunch break, the youth bowlers had the chance to talk with former and current Team USA members.

TNBAtusa“I’m grateful to be here; it was an intense application I had to fill out just to get here,” said Natasha Ashby of Philadelphia. “Just to have the opportunity to be here and meet with Team USA members such as Shannon O’Keefe, and to talk to her and learn about how she approaches the game … to take this back and apply it to my game, it’s really exciting. It’s exciting to get out on these lanes and really learn about my game.”

Joining Ashby are Brian Gaines and Jonathan McDowell, also of Philadelphia; Tyler Bartee of Windsor, Conn.; Rakia Jenkins of Smyrna, Del.; Gazmine Mason of Cranston, R.I.; Briana Reid of Linden, N.J.; and Jerel Rodriguez of Bayonne, N.J.

TNBAcoachingRodriguez, 19, started bowling when he was four but said he didn’t start taking it seriously until he was 13. He had the opportunity to work with Team USA assistant coach Bryan O’Keefe and Rodriguez said he learned about axis point and changing hand positions.

“This is big, because not too many people get picked for this,” Rodriguez said. “I’m here to pick up new things. I’ve learned to slow down my shots, worked on spares, how to change my hand position, how to move around.”

Boykins said it is a great honor for not only the youth bowlers to be able to receive coaching at the ITRC, but for the coaches to be exposed to the high level of training.

“Our young bowlers not only increase their knowledge of the game but their ability to compete at the next level, and our coaches benefit from being coached at this level,” Boykins said. “We’re honored the partnership with TNBA and USBC has grown to the next level.”

TNBA 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 to learn more about the organization.

In addition to Boykins, coaches attending included TNBA Youth Coordinator and youth coach Barbara Armstead and TNBA youth coach Donald Armstead, both of Philadelphia, and Guy Reid, who coaches a youth league in Linden, N.J. College coaches Karen Couvillon of Southern University, Ron Simms Jr. of Virginia State, and Glenn White of Prairie View A&M also were in attendance.

“I was very interested from Day 1, once I heard this was being built,” Reid said of visiting the ITRC. “This is tremendous. I’m taking from it how to better organize practices with a larger number of participants, how to maximize that in a 2-2 ½ hour time frame, and things like how to position coaches and even how to use the resources of the pro shop.”