Saturday, August 1, 2009

2009 Teen Masters begins; significant changes made to future events

Unique Teen Masters bowling balls, new divisions, learning initiatives all in the works for 2010 tournament in Reno

The 2009 Teen Masters National Championships, America’s premier high school bowling event, kicked off Friday night at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. 360 of the country’s top youth bowlers and their families from across the country attended the tournament’s opening ceremonies, during which promoter Gary Beck welcomed competitors and announced a series of bold and sweeping changes for next year’s Teen Masters finals.

Though this year’s Teen Masters will largely appear similar to past years’, next year’s competition will feature a new look and a new venue. Parting with the tournament’s traditional Las Vegas environment, the 2010 version of the Teen Masters – branded “Teen Masters 2.0” – will be held in Reno’s world-renowned National Bowling Stadium. The tournament also will feature three new divisions – high school, collegiate and middle school – in an attempt to widen the participant base and create a more level playing field for bowlers of all ages and abilities. Medals and scholarship prizes will be awarded not only to finalists in each division, but also to leaders for specific division years, i.e., freshman, sophomore, etc. Additionally, the tournament will feature singles and team competition at the high school and collegiate levels.

Perhaps the most visible change to next year’s competition is a set of three Teen Masters-specific bowling balls. Produced with the assistance of tournament sponsor Ebonite International, these three balls (red, yellow and black) will be the only balls allowed for use in Teen Masters finals competition. Intended to produce a fairer competition based on physical ability instead of equipment selection and financial backing, the three balls also will see use in regional qualifying action and special Teen Masters youth leagues.

“Several people in this industry told me I couldn’t do this, that I couldn’t turn back time,” Beck said. “But I know in my heart that this is the right thing to do.”

Noting that modern lane conditions and equipment choices have conspired with changing social factors to create “a handicapped society,” Beck said the changes to the Teen Masters might restore some integrity to tenpin competition and should help youth bowlers take personal responsibility for both their successes and failures.

“I’m of the opinion that something drastic needs to be done,” Beck said. Highlighting the fact that certified youth participation has declined at the same time sports like soccer and lacrosse have seen participation drastically increase, Beck said he hopes a new culture based on education and responsibility will fuel bowling’s future growth. Collegiate participants, competing next year under the banner of “Teen Mentors,” will help younger athletes, and Beck’s Killer ‘B’ Promotions will work with tournament sponsors Ebonite, Kegel and Dexter to offer lessons and training opportunities to all contestants.

“This isn’t just about doing well in the sport of bowling,” Beck said. “It’s about doing well in the game of life.”

For more information about the Teen Masters and changes to the 2010 tournament’s structure, visit www.teenmastersbowling.com. Updates and tournament results will be posted as they become available.

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