By: Caley Nell and Alexander Schott
Katelynn Statz, class of 2022, embodies the essence of an Oak Creek Knight. She received a scholarship this year to bowl at the collegiate level. Anyone who knew her wasn’t surprised. In her two previous seasons, she was one of the top performers in the district and qualified for state as an individual.
“Always stay motivated, try your best, and never put yourself down, because you’ll get there eventually.” — Katelynn Statz
One of her coaches, Don Rask, agrees: “She has a very sound fundamental game and she’s gone on to be one of the best bowlers in the district.”
The OC bowling program is one of the best in Wisconsin. The team has qualified for the state tournament for nine consecutive years – winning the title in 2017 – and have consistently placed in the top five year after year.
The two things that got them there, according to Rask, are their coaching staff and the remarkably dedicated kids. Rask, a bowler from the age of four, stated his career coaching middle school girls’ basketball in Ohio; this ignited his love for coaching. He joined the OC program in 2010.
Rask fondly describes his fellow coaching staff as a “collaborative” group who fosters a “drama-free and no-nonsense” type of culture. They work together to teach a simple approach to the sport. The team is a dedicated group who practice three days a week, and help out at the Saturday morning junior program.
A common misconception amongst people unfamiliar with the high school bowling format is that the sport isn’t collaborative. Bowlers play in the “Baker’s format,” where each team of five throws alternating frames of a game. The format is heavily collaborative because one weak member can ruin a game.
“We tend to attract a lot of smart kids,” Rask explains. “A couple of years ago we established an academic recognition award and I would say 85% of the kids qualify for that; that’s a 3.5 GPA out of a 4.0 scale.”
Statz started bowling when she was only seven, and was inspired by watching her brother bowl in the Saturday league. It wasn’t until high school that she became serious about the sport. She joined the OC team her sophomore year, and had been bowling out of a junior program at Classic Lanes in Brookfield. Right off the bat, her coaches recognized her skill, dedication, and potential. Kateylnn believes bowling has helped in finding new friends, a balance life, and “fill potential.”
One day, one of her coaches came to her with outstanding news: she achieved a bowling scholarship to the University of St. Frances in Joliet, Illinois. A proud Coach Rask wasn’t surprised, saying “Everything about her is exactly what college coaches are looking for.”
Katelynn can’t wait to bowl in such a welcoming place. The news of her scholarship caused Katelnn to look back on the start of her bowling carrer. She recalls, “the coaches said when I joined as a sophomore that they would be able to get me there, but I never thought it could happen.”
Women aren’t well represented in the bowling sport. Due to Title IX and the small number of female representation, women’s scholarships are very common. According to Rask, “Women’s scholarship opportunities outnumber those for men on a 10:1 basis.”
Bowling is one of the fastest growing collegiate sports, which broadens the potential scholarship opportunities across the country. The Oak Creek team, with it’s amazing coaching staff, friendly and skillful team, and proven track-record, is a perfect place to develop a passion for the sport. If you’re interested in getting better, Katelynn recommends practicing a couple of times a week. A difficult concept to master is space shooting, which is knocking down the corner pins, so she recommends practicing that the most.