By Connie Tabbert
Cobden – A Cobden teenager is fourth in Canada in the Young Bowlers Canada Shootout.
Ambrose Wattie, 17, explained that there were no bowling tournaments held during COVID, so two years ago, YBC (Young Bowlers Canada) organized the first shootout. Unfortunately, it was cancelled half-way through because bowling alleys were shut down.
This year, the tournament was held again, and this time the 15 games played over five weeks were successful, he said. While he finished fourth, he noted first place earned 872 points while the other three were very close at 827, 821 and 819, respectively.
Ambrose said the tournament consisted of a round of 16; then a round of 8; a round of four and finally a round of two. Then, he rolled against the top 21 seniors across Canada and earned the fourth-place spot. The top five were from Winnipeg, Calgary, Sherwood Park (Alberta), Renfrew and Gatineau. There were 324 senior bowlers in the tournament.
“There was a big span of people participating,” he said. “They were from Edmonton, Thunder Bay, St. John’s. We were not bowling in one alley. I didn’t know bowling was so big in our country until this tournament.”
The participants bowled in their own bowling alleys and then sent their scores to YBC who tallied them up to determine the top placings.
Ambrose began bowling when he was just a little over three.
“I don’t remember starting,” he said. “Where we lived, in Kemptville, there wasn’t much to do and there was a bowling alley down the street. Mom and dad started me there and I liked it and I just kept going.
“He tried other activities, but bowling is what he enjoyed,” mom Caryn Wattie said.
Currently, Ambrose plays at the Opeongo Bowldrome in Renfrew in the YBC Saturday mornings and in the adult league Monday evenings, although he’s not of age to play in the senior league.
“Adult is for those 19 and older, but I’m the exception,” he said. “They let me join because I can keep up with all the other adults.”
Explaining five-pin bowling, Ambrose said there are 10 frames with three tries per frame. A perfect game is 450 points, but that would mean getting 12 strikes in a row. A strike is when all five pins at the end of the 60-foot lane are knocked over.
“I average about 250 points each per game,” he said. “To get the average in my league, I bowl three games at a time and the average of all three games are combined.”
His mom added for a 17-year-old, that’s pretty impressive.
“Ambrose has the highest bowled game with a 423, literally, almost missed a perfect game two strikes away.”
Ambrose added, “Every adult bowler that has bowled at the alley, I’ve beaten.”
But it’s not just winning Ambrose enjoys.
“I enjoy going to the alley. I enjoy hanging out with everybody,” he said. “Ya, I enjoy bowling and getting strikes, but I also enjoy helping others. If I see someone struggling, I’ll help them get better.
“I enjoy the rewards, sure, but I like the camaraderie, the people.”
Ambrose has tried other sports and plays softball with teams in Lake Dore and Micksburg, but bowling is where he sees a future.
But in order to continue, there has to be good coaching and that’s where Ken Dick has come in.
Mom Caryn agrees.
“His coach that he has, he’s been doing it for 47 years and he’s a pretty incredible man,” she said.
And it’s because of Mr. Dick Ambrose has set his sights on bigger things in bowling.
“Ken is getting older,” he said. “When he retires from coaching and running YBC, I want to take over for him.”
People enjoy bowling and Ambrose wants to ensure there will always be that sport in the area for people to enjoy.
Bowling leagues begin in September and end around the end of April, he said. YBC is Saturday mornings and the adult league is Monday evenings. There’s about 25 youth and 30 adults.
“The oldest guy there is Ken and he’s in his 80s,” Ambrose said.
Mom and son are both hopeful the national tournament, which is usually in Alberta, will be something Ambrose will experience before he turns 19.
To get to the nationals, Ambrose’s team has to win the zone tournament, which means defeating teams from Orleans, Merivale, Smiths Falls, Kemptville and Cornwall, and then the provincial tournament, which is usually held in the Toronto area.
Last year, Ambrose’s team made it to the Ontario Winter Games, which were to be held in Renfrew County this year but were cancelled due to COVID. He said he will have to qualify again this year to compete in the Winter Games next year, which will be held in Renfrew County.
They both agree bowling is more than just winning. It’s about the camaraderie, the fun, and ensuring no one leaves the alley without encouragement.
“It’s an opportunity to try something new and if you do like it, keep at it,” he said.
“There’s a huge amount of encouragement at the year-end banquet for all the kids,” his momsaid. “Every child, literally, gets something. It’s not one of those sports where if you don’t come in first, second or third, that’s it, you leave empty handed.”
Ambrose admits working towards earning a trophy is wonderful, noting he usually earns about three trophies a year.
“Amby’s awards are usually the top three, the most prestigious awards,” Caryn said.
Explaining what five-pin bowling is, Ambrose said the ball weighs no more than five pounds and there are five pins at the end of a 60-foot lane.
“The ball should fit in the palm of your hand, or at least, be easy to hold onto,” he said. “It’s almost like holding a baseball, but it’s heavier and bigger and you let it roll out of your hand down the lane.
“You shouldn’t hear thump when it hits the floor, but sometimes you do.”
His mom said when Amby sometimes releases the ball, you don’t even hear it until you hear the crack of the pins.
Ambrose and other youth bowling league members from Renfrew are competing at the provincial tournament scheduled for May 1 in Brampton and Collingwood. The participants are Sawyer Jones, AJ McCoshen, Sadie Brydges, Chase Machan, Liam Kelly, Carter Hamilton and Kingston Kelly. Coaches attending are Ken Dick, Kevin Jones and Shannon Kelly.