FREDERICK — If you go to Centennial Lanes in Longmont, you may notice a young girl rolling strikes and spares in the far lane.
That girl likely is 14-year old Bekkah Dettling.
A rising sophomore at Frederick High School, Dettling is a rising star in the local bowling scene. From Saturday to Friday next week, Dettling will compete in the 15-under division at the North Pointe Junior Gold Championships in Detroit, Mich.
The top qualifiers at the Junior Gold will earn spots on the junior national team. But for Dettling, whose promising bowling career has only recently begun to blossom, the trip will be an educating experience.
“I’m really excited about it. I know there’s going to be a lot of great bowlers there so I’m just there to have fun,” Dettling said. “I’m not going there expecting to take it all or anything. I’m there to watch everyone else and take in as much as I can while I’m there.”
Dettling won her division with a six-game score of 931 at the Colorado Pepsi USBC Championship Tournament in March to qualify for the Junior Gold.
Just this year, Dettling learned how to fingertip bowl and make the ball hook. Her newfound technique and a recent change to a more serious approach to bowling have her average scores skyrocketing.
Dettling began organized bowling with the youth program at Centennial Lanes in Longmont when she was 9-years old. By the end of the 2011-12 season, she was averaging a 125. She moved to Coal Creek Bowling Center, which features a strong youth program with solid coaching, in Lafayette after that.
Since joining the youth program at Coal Creek, Dettling improved her average to 160 by the end of the North Central Colorado High School Bowling Club season and bumped her best single-game score up to 235. A shy kid, Dettling’s scores have improved in correlation with her confidence.
“I didn’t really do any tournaments until this past year when I went to Coal Creek,” she said. “There’s more interaction with the kids and the coaches there. So now I can handle the pressure more. When I first started competition I used to be bad nervous at things like the city tournament. But now I’m not.”
Dettling has bowling in her blood. Her mother Jackie Dettling, who runs leagues, associations, and tournaments, and her father Dave Dettling, who has bowled 13 perfect games, met at a bowling ally in Michigan. One of three sisters, Bekkah Dettling was the only one who didn’t complain about getting dragged to the bowling alley by her parents.
Active in several other sports, Bekkah Dettling broke the Coal Ridge Middle School long jump record of 14 feet, 8 inches in eighth grade. But bowling’s individual appeal was too much for her to resist so she decided to pick it up full-time.
“I like bowling just because you don’t have a person-on-person kind of game,” she said. “It’s you against yourself. You can go to the bowling alley any time you want and just bowl by yourself and you don’t have to get a whole team together.”
Bekkah Dettling’s recent emergence in the bowling community has been fun for her parents, who enjoy observing her confidence grow.
“I kind of dragged her up through the ranks. I’m very proud of her,” Jackie Dettling said. “It’s about teaching the game of bowling and keeping them from getting discouraged because they bowl a bad game and they want to go home and play a video. You really have to encourage the kids to get in the bowling alley.”
Bowling already is leading Bekkah Dettling to national competition. She’s hoping it could one day lead to a college scholarship.
Bekkah Dettling realized college bowling was a possibility when her high school bowling club teammate Vinnie Grine, who attends Berthoud High, earned a scholarship to Hastings College in Nebraska for bowling. Prize money at most United States Bowling Congress-sponsored youth events also is awarded in the form of scholarship money deposited into a smart account.
“I feel like wherever it takes me, I’ll enjoy it,” Bekkah Dettling said. “I can compete in college or maybe Team USA someday but I’ve got a long way to go. I thought that (Grine’s scholarship) was really cool and I feel like that was something I might be able to do and it would help.”
Wherever she ends up years from now, Bekkah Dettling will definitely be at the Junior Gold tournament next week. That’s as far as she’s gotten. For most bowlers her age, that’s more than far enough.
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