For some high school athletes, being on the bowling team represents a chance to compete in a competitive sport, while still enjoying a laid back atmosphere free of the pressures that come with many of the other varsity sports.
For seniors such as West Deptford's Brad Miller, the sport is so much more.
That’s why Miller spent much of his summer at the bowling alley working on ways to improve his game and earn a spot on the varsity roster.
Not only did Miller make the team this year—he leads it.
One season after averaging 126 pins a game, Miller has become the top bowler on the team, with an average of 195 entering Wednesday’s contest against Collingswood. Such a drastic improvement in such a short period of time is rare in the sport, but Miller certainly put the work in.
“After last year, I knew I would be bowling this year so I figured, why not get a little practice in and try and be on varsity for my senior year,” Miller said. “Over the summer, I talked to some of my friends who wanted to be in a summer league and I set one up over at Deptford. Some people couldn’t do it because of two-a-days in other sports during the summer, but it was me and a couple of other people.
"I was able to talk to the pro shop owner at Deptford and he was able to help a bunch of us. I was at the bowling alley five or six days a week just practicing."
Miller said he has also gotten several tips from girls’ standout Morgan Brown, who is far and away the Olympic Conference’s best bowler—male or female—with a 225 average. Miller said Brown helped him slow his stride down, which resulted in him releasing the ball slower and smoother.
Miller said he really knew he was making major gains when he nearly achieved perfection one night during the summer. Miller managed to record a strike in each of his first seven frames, before settling for a spare in the eighth frame and finishing with a 278.
“It was really stressful,” Miller said with a laugh.
Overall, the West Deptford boys’ team has had a breakout season, leading the conference with a 37-5 record. The Eagles put four of those wins on the board Wednesday, thanks to a clean sweep of Collingswood.
Miller, who has the second-best average of any male in the conference, hopes the team’s success isn’t overlooked and that people gain an appreciation for the work that goes into becoming a top bowler.
“A lot of people think you just show up, throw a ball and sit down and maybe you get a strike,” said Miller. “To people like myself and Morgan there is a lot more to doing well. Morgan and I are on a travel team on Sunday and go around to different (alleys) and do different tournaments where you can win scholarship money. You have to do well to earn that scholarship money, so I always want to do my best and do whatever it takes to earn that.”