Evolution of bowling: From club to varsity sport at Marian


2022-2023 bowling team picture. Top row (left to right) Christina Laa ’23, Ally Ravnsborg ’23, Maya Zier ’24, Brooke Herdzina ’24, Emma Koch ’24. Bottom row (left to right) Gabriella Birkel ’25, Jenna Blach ’25, Ella Mandolfo ’23, Kaylene Bialas ’25, Emma Pane ’24, Olivia Franklin ’24. Not pictured: Margaret Hiatt ’25. Team Manager: Bailey Sommer ’23. Coach Mr. Chris Dziadus. Photo by MalloryConnealy.

While bowling to some is considered a fun activity to enjoy with your family on a Saturday night, it has recently become a competitive outlet for others. 

It has evolved significantly in the last couple of decades as the bowling community has come together in pressuring athletic directors across the state to sanction the sport. 

During the 2020-2021 school year, the NSAA sanctioned bowling as a sport.

Jeanne Belitz Jr. is a Marian alumna who graduated in 1992. Belitz is a legacy as her mom, Jeanne Beltiz Sr. graduated in 1965. Beltiz Jr. is the current general manager of Maplewood Lanes and was a leading voice in convincing athletic directors to vote bowling as an NSAA sport. 

As a member of Marian’s bowling club for two years, and daughter of the owner of Maplewood Lanes, Belitz was passionate about bowling from a young age. 

Originally, bowling was considered a club, “so there wasn’t a varsity team that held weekly practice,” Belitz said. 

Instead the bowling club participated in local tournaments on the weekends. “We weren’t very good, but it was fun spending time with my friends,” she said. 

The evolution of Marian’s bowling team is apparent through the current team’s strenuous practice and competition schedule.

Team photograph of the 1990 bowling club at Marian(Jeanne Belitz Jr. is pictured on top left). Bowling was not an official NSAA varsity sport until the 2020-2021 school year. Photo source Marian Network 1990-1991.

 Today the team consists of 11 bowlers that compete against 18 other schools in the metro. “Today teams compete in district and state tournaments where they can win championships for bowling,” Belitz said. In fact, Marian’s bowling team is hosting 19 teams during Metros and 20 teams during districts at Maplewood Lanes on Jan. 30 and 31. 

The sport is becoming increasingly accessible and popular for Marian students. 

Bowling as a whole has begun to offer immense opportunities for players as over “250 colleges and universities offer bowling programs where students can earn scholarships,” Belitz said.

With bowling “being the number one participatory sport in the world,” anybody can reap the benefits of becoming a great bowler. 

The sport has changed immensely as it offers a growing number of opportunities for students and is now being viewed as more than just a family friendly extracurricular activity. 

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