When you’re a bowler with the name Bowling, it’s an attention-getter. Just ask Cooper’s Michael Bowling.
“It’s really my last name, too,” Michael said. “Some people have asked me did I purposefully change my name, because some people love bowling so much that they changed their name to Bowling. I love bowling, too. But this is my real name.”
His mother, Cooper girls’ coach Jamie Bowling, changed her name. But she did it by marriage.
“I was Jamie Gillum in high school,” said the coach, who went to Lloyd and bowled for the Superbowl Erlanger traveling team as a teenager. “That’s how I met my husband, at the bowling alley. I married my bowling sweetheart, and married into the Bowling family name. And we all love bowling.”
After graduating from Lloyd, she was all set to bowl at Morehead State, but suffered a wrist injury. She concentrated on studies, eventually got married and had one child, Michael. He’s a senior at Cooper.
“That injury put the kibosh on bowling,” said Jamie Bowling, who has also been in plenty of discussions about how she got her name. “I live vicariously through my son now, and my husband and my girls.”
The Cooper boys are defending Region 6 champions. The girls are returning regional finalists after losing by just three pins to Boone County in last season’s championship match. Both Cooper teams qualified for the state tournament. The boys’ qualified eighth out of 16. Both squads were eliminated in the first round.
They were all together Thursday at Southern Lanes for a sweep against Pendleton County. The boys won, 5-2. The girls won, 7-0.
“It’s a family atmosphere,” Jamie Bowling said. “There is no other place for us to be. As a family, if we’re not bowling, we’re not being ourselves.”
The Bowlings aren’t the only family act at Cooper. There are a pair of sisters rolling for the Jaguars. Freshmen twins Rachel and Rebecca Wagers are among the girls’ top five. And then there are the Goodness sisters, Brooke and Gabrielle, whose last name prompts its share of interest.
“It’s perfect, right. Bowling and Goodness,” coach Bowling said. “And we have a lot of fun.”
Senior Sierra Brandt, the lone returnee among last season’s top four, leads the girls with a 152 average. Lydia Wilmhoff is next at 140, followed by Gabrielle Goodness (127) and Rebecca Wagers (126). The Jaguars improved to 4-3 with the win over Pendleton. They are third in the conference with a 145 team average.
Leading a deep group of Cooper boys is Austin Sams. He’s among the area’s top five bowlers at 210, a significant improvement over last season’s 185 average. Sams and Michael Bowling were top-10 regional singles qualifiers last season. Steven Elgowski is next for the Jaguars (4-3) with a 186 average. He’s followed by Mason Combs (183), Bowling (181), Andrew Blood (177) and Travis Benke (170).
“Austin is one of our most improved. He hasn’t had a bad week yet,” said Cooper coach Joe Deters, whose squad has a team average of 176, tied for fourth in the conference. “Michael is very workmanlike. I expect him to do very well again this year.”