Bowling is more than just a fun weekend activity. The potential lifelong pastime is also a growing competitive sport for Signal Mountain High School students.
The SMHS team is holding tryouts for the upcoming fall season at Hixson's Holiday Bowl Wednesday, Aug. 22 and Thursday, Aug. 23 at 3:30 p.m. both days.
The team is open to boys and girls entering the eighth grade through high school seniors, said coach Mark Bracher.
"For the kids that aren't athletic, bowling is a good sport," he said. "It doesn't require you to jump high or run fast, and just about anyone can do it."
Bracher stresses that participants can be inexperienced bowlers, as most on the team start out bowling in the 90-100 range.
"For the kids that are athletic, especially baseball and softball players, it can really help some of their skills with throwing accuracy," he said.
SMHS had approximately 20 bowlers last season, the first in which a separate team was formed for girls. Bracher said he felt some girls were uncomfortable competing on a coed team.
"One of the reasons we created a girls' team is to get more girls interested," he said. "Our goal is to expand their team. It's something they can do with friends. It's very casual."
Though only four girls participated last season, he said he hopes more will try out this year, as well as a greater number of rising eighth- and ninth-grade boys.
The teams practice twice a week beginning in late August, and Bracher said he will tailor the practice schedule to accommodate students participating in other sports and activities.
Matches begin in October and run through December, with the state tournament occurring at the end of January.
Bracher said each player is supplied with a ball owned by the school in order to continue improving their game outside of practice, and most seniors leave the team bowling in the 150-160 range.