Knockin’ Out Wins: NHS’s bowling team is constantly topping the charts while not considered an official sport.


Team poses for photo before big conference position night. The bowlers will have their final match on Friday the 17th to qualify for sectionals.

Brenzlee Johnson and McKenzie Vitale

High school sports, a classic part of the high school experience, the thrill of watching your school’s basketball or football team fight for a well deserved win, experiencing the highs and lows with your team. But does that experience change when the school doesn’t consider your sport an official sport? For many sports teams, a strong support system, especially from their own school, is something that they desire. But here at Noblesville High School, the bowling team isn’t on the receiving end of that.

“It can be annoying,” said Jacob Brown, a senior here at NHS. “We lose out on a lot of things other sports get, and everything comes out of pocket for us.” 

Because of the lack of official support from the school, typical school-funded benefits are not provided. 

“Like we give letters for our seniors in varsity, but those are bought by our coaches. And we got new jerseys this year, we paid for them ourselves. Things like that can get annoying,” Brown said.

Brown began his bowling career in 8th grade, when his long-time acquaintance, current NHS assistant coach Tom Tarzwell, approached Brown and his friends about being a part of the middle school bowling team. Soon, they ended up creating a tight-knit bond within the members of the bowling community. 

“The bowling team is like a family. Both varsity and junior varsity know each other and help each other, we win together and lose together,” Brown said.

Now, with an impressive streak of wins, the bowling team stands undefeated so far this season with only one match left before their big Conference Position night. 

“This streak of wins is motivating the team to keep getting better because we have almost lost a match a few times,” Brown said. 

Even though they have come close to losing, their ability to turn the game around is an eye opener into their talents.

“It’s a motivation to our team because it shows our true capabilities and the reason we do this,” said sophomore bowler Cameron Russell.

Russell was introduced to bowling through his family, with his dad bowling for the Professional Bowlers Association, his mom competing in college, as well as his brother competing in matches. 

“I feel like being around these people and being in a bowling center my whole life really made me want to get involved”

Similarly, Lena Tarzwell, a senior varsity bowler for the Miller team, has been bowling for as long as she can remember. The sport, not only for her, but for several members of the team, has become an outlet for them. 

“Bowling is a lot of work but it is helping [me to] be a better person,” Tarzwell said.

For Jimmy Krach, another sophomore bowler on the team, the sport is also a way he enjoys his free time. When Krach got into bowling, he originally didn’t think much of it, but now, he knows it’s the perfect sport for him. 

“Bowling is not only just a sport to me, it’s almost like a getaway from the everyday struggles of life. Even though it can be very demanding and stressful at matches, it’s nice to just come into practice with an open and clear mind and bowl,” Krach said.

Brown also uses bowling as a healthy escape from the stresses day-to-day life can bring.

“It’s something I can strive to get better at, and when I need to get some energy out, I can go and [play] a few games to get it out,” says Brown.

Together, the team has knocked out some tough wins this year, most recently winning a 20-2 match against Anderson and increasing their current win streak to 9-0 this year. Even though they’ve won many state championships, they still aren’t recognized in the same way as other high school sports.

“It makes us feel less appreciated because we are back-to-back state champions, and we don’t get what everyone else gets, for example rings and letterman jackets,” Tarzwell said.

To the bowlers, it sometimes seems as though they have been left in the dark, cast out from the traditional sports world. Bowlers say that this can affect their overall morale.

“It took the team years to be reconsidered as a club to begin with, so it’s not like this treatment is new, but it still stings when we don’t get treated like other sports, or even other sport-like groups. We get less press and don’t get really anything from the school that we represent,” Brown said.

And he’s not the only one who feels this way, but with each win and each fight, they come closer together as a team.

This club is definitely like a close family,” Russel said, “by supporting each other no matter what happens, always being encouraging, and just being kind to each other, but also helping when it’s needed.”

Despite the lack of acknowledgment, the team says they create a positive environment through their passion and determination for bowling.

 “Our environment is light but consistent. We joke around, and we mess with each other, but we all know that we need to always be improving, and we are serious in our way of doing it. We joke around to lighten the mood and keep morale because we get very critical with ourselves very quickly,” Brown said.

Head coach James Elliot sees his team’s environment in a similar fashion. He noticed their drive to win as well as their sportsmanship.

“Everyone coming back the next year was hungry to get back and win it all. Practices became more focused and attention to all aspects of their game and how to improve was what they wanted.  We went on to win state that year. We did it again last year,” Elliot says. “The biggest change I have seen in them is that they don’t get down if the other team comes out hot. They now realize it is a marathon, not a sprint.”

To the bowlers, bowling is not only a relaxing outlet, but an overall fun game for all.

“I hope to show that bowling is a sport that anyone can get into, any age, any size, “ Brown said. “There are so many different leagues and different ways to bowl. Anyone can find the right way and place for them.”