By Susan Jenior
Bowling practice continues over the holidays with only a few matches and tournaments scheduled.
This week, the column focuses on two people who were instrumental from the beginning of high-school bowling in Portage County from the beginning.
There is a change in high-school bowling in Portage County.
For the first time in 20 years, Terry Adolph is not leading the teams for the Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders.
Jesse Michel and Howard Fincham took over the coaching duties at Kent Roosevelt following Adolph stepping down.
“It is going to be hard to replace Hall of Famer and 20-year coach like Terry Adolph,” said Michel. “Howard Fincham and I will try our best to help these student-athletes reach their goals for the year.”
Adolph’s bowlers could often be found at the state tournament, including in 2021 when, in the midst of COVID-19, both senior Chris LeSueur and junior Matt Richards advanced to the OHSAA’s Division I state tournament.
Richards qualified again for state in 2022.
Adolph, an accomplished bowler in her own right, was inducted into the Portage County Bowling Hall of Fame in 1999 prior to her coaching start.
Now, 20 years later, her bowling teams have made Kent Roosevelt proud with their individual and team victories and advancement into postseason tournaments and continuing to college play.
Family is everything to Adolph and now she has time to watch her own family, including her son Pat and grandson Jackson, who won the USBC Adult/Child Tournament in Washington Court House.
“In your heart, you know when it is time,” said Adolph about her resignation from Kent Roosevelt.
Does she miss coaching?
“I don’t mind living in a bowling alley anymore,” said Adolph. “I used to rush home from work to get to practice or to take the bus. I don’t miss that part, but I do miss the competition.”
In 20 years as the head bowling coach for Kent Roosevelt (and three years as the club sport coach before bowling became a varsity sport), Adolph’s team earned nine Portage Trail Conference championships, two Suburban League championships and three second-place league finishes.
“I have had some talented bowlers, and we really had to play hard, fine tune the bowlers’ games and get them fit for the right equipment,” said Adolph.
“Kent Lanes was always extremely supportive, helping with equipment and letting the kids bowl for $1 a game. They recognized the youth bowlers were the future.”
Adolph has always helped with the youth bowling, including spending many after-school hours at the program run by Kent Lanes when the kids were bused from local schools and on Saturday mornings, where youth programs have found a home for developing bowlers and kids just wanting to have fun.
Her 20 years at Kent Roosevelt also included four teams and 16 individuals earning a trip to the state tournament.
“I feel it is my legacy, so to speak,” said Adolph. “I rode on their shoulders, gave them all the tools they needed to be successful and, in turn, the bowlers had to commit to the process. I feel I’ve been successful at that, and I do take pride that I made a difference,” explained the longtime coach.
“Bowling helps to make kids well-rounded human beings,” she added. “I always encouraged bowlers to respect the process. It always went well, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Her most memorable moment was at the Ravenna Invitational, when LeSeur and Richards each rolled 300 games in the same game.
“Chris finished first with three strikes in the final frame and then Matt had to wait for the lanes to calm down before he stepped up and finished his 300 game in the final frame,” she said. “Bryce Oliver of Woodridge also bowled a 300 game in that same game and tournament.”
Richards is involved in Adolph’s second memorable moment.
Now bowling for the University of Northwestern Ohio (Lima), Richards was bowling in a home match for Kent Roosevelt at Kent Lanes. The coach from UNOH was there to watch.
“Matt signed his letter of intent for UNOH at the match and then, the first game out of the gate, he bowled a 300 game,” said Adolph.
“Parents have told me, ‘You made a difference,’ and that makes me happy. The bowlers worked harder in school and stayed focused.
“In my last year, every single starting varsity player, boys and girls, were scholar-athletes. The majority of bowlers over the last 10 years were recognized. We stress to the bowlers they are student-athletes and the student comes first,” said Adolph.
Adolph was part of the process when high-school bowling started in Portage County.
“We went around, (Ravenna’s) Jim Boyle and I, to area high schools to promote the sport. Overall, the schools were supportive, starting as a club sport until the state elevated bowling to a varsity sport after girls and boys teams each reached 150 teams across the state.”
Most rewarding is seeing kids become a good athlete that might not have thought of themselves as a competitor.
“I lettered kids that would have never dreamed of getting a letter,” said Adolph. “And that’s your reward. An autistic kid throwing a 226 at an away game and watching him blossom as both the competitors and our own team become his cheerleaders; a diabetic athlete learning they can relax and do this sport and parents supporting the process. Parents trust you with those kids,” Adolph continued.
When the high-school program started, Adolph knew almost every bowler competing on the teams, not just the Rough Riders. “I had coached them in youth bowling. My son reminded me not to coach the other team just because I had helped them in youth bowling.”
Adolph remains involved in bowling, helping her grandson and the other youth bowlers at Spins Bowl on Saturday mornings.
She also watches matches sometimes when Kent Roosevelt is competing and travels to collegiate tournaments for UNOH.
“Those are fun,” said Adolph. “I traveled to watch UNOH bowl at a Tier-1 collegiate tournament and it was a blast. We left early in the morning and didn’t get home until after 11 p.m. It is great to see Matt Richards excel.”
LeSueur is at Pikesville in the top five in the nation right now.
“That is the rewarding part of coaching, knowing that you made a difference and seeing them on the lanes. It is part of the joy,” said Adolph.
Now, Adolph looks forward to enjoying retirement, both from bowling and work.
Family is everything and her sisters, sons and grandchildren all live within the immediate area.
Her husband, Tom, retired two years ago and they will now spend more time with grandchildren, fishing and golfing. “We are enjoying our lives,” said Adolph.
Her son, Patrick, is an accomplished bowler in his own rite, bowling 38 different 300 games and 24 separate 800 series, as well as joining his son Jackson at available tournaments.
“I think if you want to be a good coach, and a good parent, you have to make a sandwich,” said Adolph. “You have to compliment, correct and compliment. Always end on a positive note.”
It all comes down to making a difference for Adolph.
“I earned their respect and they will remember me laughing and having a sense of humor because coaching was a joy,” she concluded.
Bill White was synonymous with bowling and youth.
The owner and manager of many bowling lanes, a successful pro bowler and a friend to many, Bill also loved the kids bowling in his lanes.
His junior bowling leagues on Saturday mornings filled the then 40-lane house with all ages, from 3 and 4-year-olds competing with the help of large, balloon-like bumpers filling the gutters to 18 year olds. Many youth bowlers and their families continued to play in state and national tournaments under his watch.
White was instrumental when bowling was initiated as a high-school sport in Portage County in the early 2000’s, and he wanted to continue to encourage the growth of high-school bowling among the students and the high schools that were important to him.
In 2005, White initiated the Bill White Scholarship that presented scholarships to graduating seniors competing on their high-school teams.
Reading the scholarships himself, the scholarship was eventually included in the umbrella of scholarships and named for Bill and his wife Eddye within the Portage Foundation.
Applications for the scholarship will go live on the Portage Foundation website Jan. 1 and must be submitted by March 1.
The scholarships are open to athletes from Rootstown, Crestwood, Garfield, Ravenna, Southeast, Streetsboro and Kent Roosevelt High School who are members of their high school bowling team.
Additional criteria includes: Hold a 2.5 cumulative grade-point average based on a 4.0 scale; provide a copy of their high-school transcript; submit two letters of recommendation, one from the bowling coach and one from a teacher and submit an essay not to exceed 500 words describing how competitive bowling made an impact on the athlete’s life.
The athlete must intend to enroll in a two-year technical school or four-year undergraduate college program.
To apply after Jan. 1, log onto www.portagefoundation.org or call 330-470-8950.