Anyone who has seen the classic film “Cool Runnings” remembers the song that the bobsled team had for themselves:
The people say, you know they can’t believe
Jamaica, we have a bobsled team.
Well, with this being the first year of Horizon High School’s athletic program, there are many new things coming along with it. The big game at the end of the week, new athletes, new teammates, new coaches. Everything is new and exciting.
Perhaps the most remarkable new program at Horizon — and the least known — is the varsity bowling team.
That’s right: Horizon has a bowling team.
A bowling program is nothing out of the ordinary for this area; all the high schools in West and Southwest Orange have bowling teams. However, the newness of everything makes the program at Horizon noteworthy, especially in how they have performed so far.
First-year head coach Mell Rupp said the only difficult part so far has been recruiting members to join the team. He said not many students — female students in particular — have jumped at the chance to join the team. Even his own daughter, a freshman, didn’t want to join. “She told me, ‘It doesn’t look that cool, Dad. I don’t think if I told my friends I was on the bowling team, I’d be seen as cool,’” Rupp said with a laugh. “It’s a sport that doesn’t get as much attention at the high school level. … But my team is very passionate about it.”
So far, the girls team, comprised of only two athletes, is 4-3. They join Horizon’s six male bowlers. Because of this small membership — teams are supposed to have five of each gender — the team has had to compete in what is called a baker match.
In a baker match, a team switches bowlers every frame. For Horizon, its female bowlers bowl every other frame, so they can compete along with the males.
Rupp is not only the bowling coach at Horizon. He is also the gifted and advanced studies coordinator, as well as a U.S. history teacher.
“It’s a new school, so you have to wear different hats,” Rupp said.
Although membership is still a work in progress, Rupp is amazed at how supportive the administration has been of the team.
“I put out an announcement every time we have wins and put out the information on social media, so information of the team does get out there,” Rupp said. “I do feel the school, administration and our principal are supportive of us.”
The team practices four days a week at AMF Kissimmee Lanes. After a 15-minute warmup, the team plays three games, focusing on a specific part of its technique with each game. As they play, Rupp hops between bowling lanes to give pointers. A possible blessing in disguise to having a small team is it allows him to work with each member individually.
“I work with them on anything they may need help with — their approach, throwing the ball, how to approach each of the different shots,” Rupp said.
Going forward, the goal is, of course, to recruit new members, but Rupp is looking beyond that. He wants to build the Horizon bowling into a strong, formidable team.
“We want to have a bigger presence for the bowling program at our school,” Rupp said. “So that not only do I have my players being passionate, but the rest of the school being supportive, as well.”