At least 20 girls at Gig Harbor High School will soon be swapping their sneakers for bowling shoes.
The school is rolling out a girls bowling team this winter, and the response has been positive so far. Gig Harbor is the last school in the Class 3A South Sound Conference to adopt the sport.
“We do a student interest survey every two years, typically,” Gig Harbor High School athletic director Bob Werner said. “We ask students a bunch of questions, and one of them is which sports they’d like to see offered, that currently aren’t. Bowling kept popping up.”
So Werner held a meeting at the high school to gauge student interest. He was impressed with the turnout. The league season will start on Nov. 9. So far, 21 girls have signed up.
Gig Harbor’s home alley will be Tower Lanes on 6th Avenue in Tacoma. Werner reached out to the new Gig Harbor bowling alley at the Fred Meyer complex, but the opening had been delayed, prompting him to look elsewhere. While Tower Lanes is across the bridge, it’s a fairly short drive. The girls will be bussed to and from practice.
Werner piqued the girls’ interest when he slyly told them their coach was a state champion. A bowling professional, perhaps? Nope — Werner was referring to Pete Jansen, the school’s longtime baseball coach. Jansen has won two state baseball titles at Gig Harbor, the most recent coming last spring.
“He’s a great coach,” Werner said. “The kids will love it.”
Jansen, a teacher at the high school, will be joined by assistant coach David Millard, also a math teacher at the high school. As for the team, there aren’t any ringers or bowling prodigies. Just some girls looking for something to do in the winter.
“Everybody is new to it,” Werner said. “We’re going to be as green as we can possibly be this year.”
Adding another sport for girls in the winter is perhaps the biggest benefit here. Last winter, Gig Harbor had 28 girls competing in winter sports: 28 in basketball and zero in wrestling. That’s a huge step down from the fall and spring seasons, which see around 800 girls combined competing in sports.
“It fits perfect,” Werner said.
And it makes it easier for some girls to letter in three sports, as well.
The varsity squad may vary from week to week. The top seven bowlers will be varsity. The next season will be JV, and the final seven will be C-Team.