The Northwest Indiana Junior Tournament Players Association will begin it's third season Sunday with the Holzenballz Pro Shop Open at Hobart Lanes.
The NWIJTPA will tour region bowling centers in eight stops from October to May, giving high school bowlers a unique chance to earn scholarship money and be exposed to college coaches.
"It’s about the kids, the game, and the experiences that accompany events like this; I enjoy running tournaments and watching these talented kids compete," NWIJTPA board member Mike Kraushaar said. "I grew up bowling, traveling with my parents to youth tournaments and subsequently traveling with my kids to their tournaments. I have a lot of good memories."
The NWIJTPA awarded $15,000 in it's first two years and hopes to add $10,000 to that total this season, Kraushaar said. Scholarship funds are raised through event sponsorship and membership and entry fees.
"The scholarships are very important," Chesterton junior Heidi Tucker said. "I'm in it to win it. I want that scholarship money."
The tour will make stops at Hobart Lanes, Inman's, Lakeshore Lanes, Stardust Bowl III, Plaza Lanes, Camelot Bowl, Olympia Lanes and Country Lanes.
The highlight of this year's schedule is the Nov. 9 Porter County Open at Inman's which immediately follows the second day of the Crusader Classic, hosted by Valparaiso University. Girls will have a chance to bowl in front of coaches from colleges around the country.
"(The tour) is a really good experience," Tucker said. "I (joined the tour) because I wanted to compete, but I (also) wanted to have colleges look at me."
She is one of the NWIJTPA's youth advisors, who have given input on tournament formats, rules and lane patterns. Youth advisors also play a role in governing the conduct of fellow keglers, if necessary.
"This helps ensure that the tour stays fresh and focused on the youth bowler," Kraushaar said.
There were about 20 bowlers per event when the NWIJTPA started in 2011-12, Kraushaar said, but the goal is to average 40 at each stop this season.
"This is a very competitive tour but that is what makes it fun for these bowlers, Kraushaar said. "This tour is a place where the top youth from our region and surrounding areas can compete against the best on tournament-type shots which helps make their games better."
NWIJTPA tours region bowling centers