CAMANCHE, Iowa — The Camanche girls bowling team is headed to the state bowling tournament early next week, and for senior Jordan Smith it will make her fourth trip to the tournament in her four years of high school bowling.
The lone senior on the squad had her hands full this year. The team is made up of just six girls total, including two freshman and a sophomore.
"We have a few newbies on the team this year, and it's a lot of getting them comfortable with being in this kind of competitive situation that they're not used to," Smith said. "It's a lot of telling them that it's going to be okay no matter how you do. We believe in you, we still love you.
"There was a lot of first meet jitters for them, they had never been through it. The whole experience this year hopefully got them ready for the state meet."
Smith leads the Indians with an average of 192, with her high game this season a 278. In a sport that is highly individual, the athlete has found a way to bring the Indians close together as a team.
"She's not had the year she wanted, but her numbers are pretty decent," Camanche bowling coach Jay Garvey said about Smith. "They look to her for support and she does the best she can in the time we can."
Plus, the way high school bowling tournaments are set up helps. The teams roll two games for individual scores, and then baker rotations. Each athlete bowls two frames in each of the five games.
"We have five bakers games and that really brings us together as a whole and as a team," Smith said.
Smith also focuses on positivity and cheering on her teammates during each competition. She says that is one of the many things she's learned from the sport she's been doing of for the last ten years of her life.
"Patience, to calm myself and not get angry," Smith said, reflecting on what the sport has done for her. "Bowling has taught me how to be a team and participate, collaborate, positive attitude and cheering. It's taught a me more things than you would think it would."
Smith also said the coaching staff at Imperial Lanes has helped her immensely to become a better bowler and a better leader.
"I've gone through the three years of experience in this program that has made me so much better than I was my freshman year. Some of these girls don't understand that yet," Smith said. "Coach Jay has been amazing for this program, he's taught us a lot. These girls will be so much better in the future and they don't even know yet."
The girls team is a close knit squad with just the six members, just enough to fill the slots. Still, Smith hopes that more young athletes consider joining the sport. She says it's laid back, helps her clear her mind and really introduces you to a new team aspect.
The girls have now qualified for state seven years running, and she wants to see the success continue for the Indians.
"There aren't as many youth bowlers as there have been in the past," Smith said. "I hope it changes. This program has been amazing through the years and it will be in the future if we get more youth bowlers out."
But now, Smith knows her high school bowling career has an end point: the state tournament in Waterloo.
"It's been eventful, it's been awesome and I'm sad to see it ending so soon," Smith said about her career.
The Iowa State Co-ed Bowling Tournament will take place Feb. 19-21 in Waterloo, Iowa. The Camanche girls will be bowling along with the Clinton High School girls, and Carter Hudson from the Clinton High boys team.