Wednesday, September 22, 1999
Iolani's Nicole Edwards hasBy Cindy Luis
found a sport that can
last for a lifetime
It's not easy to roll a perfect game but Nicole Edwards manages to do it every time she hits the lanes. That's because for the Iolani School senior, bowling is the perfect sport that combines family and fun.
"I've been bowling since I was 6," said the Raiders' top bowler. "It all started because my family bowls. My mom got me into it. My grandma bowls. Even my 5-year-old sister bowls.
"It's a good sport but I do get a lot of flack at school because of it. It helps that it's a family thing for me."
Leeward Bowl is a second home to Edwards, who also competes in two Saturday leagues for Leeward Juniors. Her mother, Naomi Martin, said she didn't push her daughter into bowling "because I didn't want to force my sport on her," she said.
"Nicole tried other sports but she did the best in bowling. It suits her temperament and I feel bowling is a more positive sport than some others."
Martin, on the board of the Oahu Women's Bowling Association, said she was a little prejudiced when it came to her daughter's bowling. But when others began commenting on Edwards' talent, Martin decided there was just one thing to do.
"I went and got certified as a bowling instructor so I could help her go farther," said Martin, the Iolani girls' and boys' varsity and junior varsity bowling coach. "She's pretty close to my scores right now.
"When I talk to other parents about bowling, I emphasize that it is a sport. The kids need to learn to stretch, there's safety issues for being on the lanes. For some of the kids, bowling is nothing more than socializing. What I love seeing is the ones who didn't start off as good bowlers becoming the most intense in competition."
Edwards is the most experienced bowler on the Iolani varsity. She was named an Interscholastic League of Honolulu first-team all-star last year and finished 18th at the state tournament in Hilo.
Currently, she is averaging 170 in ILH competition, seven pins lower than what she averages for Leeward Juniors. Edwards' high game is 240.
Like golf, bowling can become an expensive sport. Her 15-pound custom orange-and-purple ball cost $200.
"You need your own equipment," Edwards said.
The investment could pay off. The NCAA recently sanctioned bowling as a Division I women's sport, although most of the colleges are in the Midwest.
Nanakuli's Lourdes Manuel, who finished third in the state tournament last year, received a four-year scholarship to Nebraska.
"I'm hoping for a scholarship but most of the colleges I'm looking at don't offer it," said Edwards, who plans to major in creative writing or playwriting. "I'm exploring my options."
What is not an option is bowling. She knows very well that's a lifetime activity.
"Maybe some people don't think of it as a sport, but it is one," she said.
"What's good about it is you don't have to be that athletically inclined to become good and there aren't too many serious injuries.
"My grandma (Doris Edwards), who is in her 60s, just finished competing in a tournament. The oldest bowler there was 95."
"It really is a lifetime sport," said Martin, a coach for Leeward Juniors the past six years. "I realize that wrestling, soccer and football can also get you scholarships but, at some point, you'll have to give up that sport. Not with bowling.
"We have about 200 kids in Leeward Juniors. Unfortunately, you see bowling at the junior level growing as more and more lanes close here."
Martin's younger daughter is trying to follow in the family's footsteps. Jaymie Rae Martin, age 5, has an average of 37.
"It's not real great, but it is a start," said Naomi Martin. "It's how Nicole started."