The bowling team ‘strikes’ back

Nathan Smith is taking the NHS bowling team to a whole new level


Photo by Photo by Kaci Craig

One NHS bowling teammate goes for a strike.

Noah Zentz, Staff Writer

At Noblesville High School, the emphasis set on traditional high school sports like football and basketball makes it easy for other teams or individual sports to be overshadowed. Many students don’t realize that the high school has its own bowling team that has been paving a history of victories for Noblesville.

Sophomore Nathan Smith has been on the bowling team for two years now and has already set Noblesville on a road to be a very elite team in Indiana.

While only being a freshman and having been on the team for one year, Smith won the boys state championship in Anderson last school year.

“It was almost like any other tournament, just higher stakes,” said Smith.

His tremendous success wasn’t completely unexpected, however. Smith has been bowling since he was only 4-years-old. His passion has come from three generations of bowlers before him. His father, Doug Smith, was in a league, and Nathan wants to be just like him. Since then, he has built up his skills to be able to compete on such a high level as only a freshman.

“Last year, I just told myself that I had no expectations and whatever I did that year I’d set the bar there. I guess I set the bar pretty high,” said Smith.

With a state win in the books, Smith is taking Noblesville to the top. This year the team has already placed in regionals and is heading to Richmond to compete at semi-state. You would think such success would come from hours of practice everyday, but for the Noblesville team only two hours of practice is allowed each week. The team works under the supervision and guidance of three coaches: Doug Smith, Tom Tarzwell, and Jamie Elliott. Each week could be one hour dedicated to sparring, with the other hour dedicated to team bowling. Smith compared this to running in cross country.

 “If you told [a cross country runner] they had a big race coming up, and you told them you can run two hours a week, will they be able to perform at the highest ability at that race?” asked Smith. “Most would say no. Some would say [the bowling team] aren’t good because we don’t get to practice enough but we can prove them wrong instantly because were used to it.”

Bowling takes more than sharpening your skills. With it comes a sound mindset and being able to come back from failure or a mistake. Former student AJ Tarzwell was a teammate that fulfilled the role of being a supportive leader. Smith recognized Tarzwell’s ability to mollify situations and since has influenced Smith’s role as a teammate.

“Throughout my career, I had those moments where I would mentally break down and no one would be there to reset me, and after seeing what AJ accomplished, I wanna be that person that calms people down,” said Smith.

With the state championship coming up soon, Smith has been laser focused on winning a second time. After last year’s major victory in Anderson, he’s excited to see how he does again this year.

“I think I have a really good shot at making history,” said Smith.

Only one other Indiana bowler has come close to winning two state championships in a row. EJ Tackett was considered the best in state but lost the title match.

Bowling, Smith describes, has generations of dominance.

“You can be the best out there and there’s always going to be someone else to show up and bowl better than you,” said Smith.

Smith hopes this isn’t the case for him. Before he can go to state, Smith must place well enough in the upcoming semi-state. He is feeling confident with how things are going.

“The way I’ve been bowling the last couple years, the way I compose myself— the number one goal is to just get to state,” Smith said. “I think I can put Noblesville on a whole new level in this sport.”

If Smith does end up making history, not only will it put him in the spotlight, but the Noblesville bowling team as well. Smith sees his victories as not something to gloat about or make him the best, but rather as a way to put Noblesville in the light for something unexpected: bowling.

“I don’t see myself as a superstar,” said Smith. “Although, I did do something that not a lot of people can say they did. I think I see myself as a person that gets the team recognized. If it wasn’t for me winning state, the high school bowling team wouldn’t get as much recognition as it has been.”  

While the limelight and fame isn’t something Smith shies away from, his reason for bowling goes beyond that. His enjoyment comes from just being able to rep the black and gold colors while doing what he knows best. Bowling is turning into a career for Smith and has grown into something more a competition.

“It doesn’t matter where I go or what tournament I go to, if I’m there, those people aren’t just watching bowling, they’re watching me,” said Smith. “I like entertaining people, if no one is really amazed by what I do then I don’t think what I’m doing is worth it.”