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Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019
A somewhat different look to YBC Nationals
by Randy Pascal

Between them, the Garson Bowl junior and senior girls tandems of Danika St. Jacques, Isabelle Perreault, Valerie Quackenbush and Chantal Tourigny can boast a combined total of six appearances at YBC nationals.

By this time next week, they will have ten. Their coaches, Roger and Nicky Givoque, bring with them another eight to the mix.

Yet as the crew prepares to depart later this week for Regina, site of the 2018 Canadian Youth Bowling Championships, their experience is sure to be unlike any previous visit.

The team size has been halved, with only two bowlers representing each province in team competition (was previously four bowlers per team), forcing an alteration of the format that sees the young athletes perform on day one as part of a mixed crew, before focusing on their gender specific tournament beginning on Sunday.

“I feel like you've got to carry your partner more, and they have to carry you more, rather than having the two other people to help you,” said Quackenbush, a 16 year old grade 11 student at St Charles College. Thankfully, the adjustment is the same for everyone.

A bowling regular since the age of four, the veteran of nationals in Newfoundland (2012) and Oshawa (2015) suggested she is now much better equipped to go with the flow than would have been the case just a few short years ago.

“I used to get really frustrated with myself when I wouldn't bowl properly,” said Quackenbush. “Now, I've learned to shake it off. It's one bad frame, just carry on and do your best.” Her partner in this adventure will be able to draw on the lessons she learned as a member of the Garson junior girls squad that competed in Gatineau this time last year, not to mention the steady improvements to her game.

“I've really straightened out my hand and my arm, and it's helped make me a little bit better,” suggested Tourigny, nearing the completion of her grade 10 year at Collège Notre-Dame. “It's all about staying focused and staying consistent throughout the three days of bowling. You will have your bad games, but the comebacks are always good.”

Tourigny, however, has mixed feelings about her upcoming trek westward. After finishing third in house competition earlier this year, the 15 year old earned the Northern Ontario berth only when older sister, Ashley, was denied the opportunity to participate, or risk losing her year within the Radiation Therapy program at Laurentian University.

With her placement due to take place next week, the eldest of the two bowling siblings would have been forced to miss the first day of her placement, a situation for which she would not, unfortunately, be granted an exemption. “I'm going to go there and do my best for my sister,” suggested Chantal.

Having moved from Timmins to Sudbury some five years ago, St. Jacques has bowled on a variety of lane surfaces, a situation for which she has prepared herself as she deals with the synthetic alternative at nationals. “When I bowl on synthetic, I find my ball moves a lot more,” stated the 13 year old grade 8 student at Marymount Academy.

“When I bowl here (Garson), it gets more of a grip and stays where I want it to go. With synthetic, I will throw my normal ball and see what happens. If it goes left, then I move left.”

Whether with her junior team, partnered with Perreault, or as part of the Northern Ontario mixed junior entry, with a boys duo from Timmins, St. Jacques is focused on reaching the step-ladder playoff round by securing a top five finish in the round robin segment.

In her mind, a top seeding is not necessarily the be all and end all. “I've been in first once,” she said. “You put a lot more pressure on yourself because you're in the first position and people are expecting you to do well.” Hopefully, she can tap into the relaxation techniques of her partner, participating for the third time at coast to coast playdowns.

“With all of the bowling, it doesn't give us much time to socialize (with other provinces), but we talk while we're bowling, so we kind of get to know each other,” said Perreault, wrapping up her first year of high school studies at Collège Notre-Dame. “I'm more social, because once I'm having fun, I usually have a really good game.”

“Meeting everyone from every province, and just the feeling of getting there is the best thing about nationals,” added the 15 year old bowler. “It's a great feeling.” With all four of the young ladies super amped up about their first trip to Western Canada, it will be up to the experienced coaching couple to steady the ship.

“Lots of time, it's just about keeping them grounded,” noted Nicky Givoque, who works side by side with her husband, Roger, mainly with the senior bowlers on Thursday nights, but also with the entire spectrum of youth talent on Saturday mornings in Garson. “Bad shots are going to happen, you're going to miss something. We've got to keep them focused, let them know that once your ball is thrown, you can't get it back, so just move on to the next frame.”

“They know the basics,” she added. “Sometimes, it's just reinforcing them.” Joining the Garson contingent on the weekend in Saskatchewan will be the senior boys team from Whitewater Lanes in Azilda, Kyle Beaulieu and Joseph Phillips.

The spotlight would also shine on Chico's Bowl in Hanmer in the Bantam division, the venue responsible for producing the men's singles Northern Ontario entry (Jonah Solomon), as well as the girls bantam team of Alyssa Lagrue and Cloe Mallette. Play begins on Saturday (May 5th), with finals capping things off on Monday.

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