With the price of a college education rising each year, the need for future students to find funding is as important as taking the ACT. Athletic and academic scholarships are well-known ways of getting this added financial assistance.

For youth around the country, another form of academic assistance is available via the sport of bowling. Through the U.S. Bowling Congress (USBC), more than $6 million in scholarship money is available each year for participating in youth bowling events.

“It’s an untapped resource,” pointed out Chris Skillings, Director of FireLake Bowl. “Out of that $6 million, they have never used it all. That is just money that is being left on the table that could help kids pay for college.”

Starting September 14 and running through the December, FireLake Bowling Center will begin its youth program. Any youth from the age of five can begin the program at a cost of $7 for each Saturday session they bowl three games and receive rental bowling shoes at no cost. To qualify for the scholarships, participants of the Saturday youth program pay an annual USBC membership fee of $17. Youth who want to can also enter into USBC-sanctioned tournaments which also offer their own separate scholarship funds.

The Oklahoma Grand Prix Scholarship Program has a $5 enrollment each year until graduation that each Saturday session they bowl at FireLake, they accrue points that go towards scholarship funds available once they begin their college careers. To have access to the scholarship money they have earned, youth bowlers must continue the program throughout their academic careers until they are 18.

“In the two years that we been open I’ve had several of my kids that have won scholarships in USBC tournaments,” said FireLake’s Youth and Events Coordinator Randy Loftis.

FireLake Bowling Center also offers an after-school bowling program for high schoolers each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon starting November 1. While not affiliated with the high schools in the area directly

“It is designed for youth who aren’t playing high school sports but who still want to learn to bowl. Our instructors at FireLake teach them the basics, and it is all for free. Hopefully their participation can let them enjoy the sport, and in a best case scenario, they become good enough to perhaps bowl at the collegiate level,” said Skillings.

A number of colleges nationwide have competitive bowling teams or clubs, some of which have financial assistance. A full list of USBC-affiliated collegiate teams can be found at www.collegebowling.com/teams.

If you would like to learn more about youth bowling around the Citizen Potawatomi Nation headquarters in Shawnee, Okla. please contact FireLake Bowling Center at 405-275-0404 ex 0 or visit www.FireLakebowl.com. To find more information about college scholarships for youth bowlers, please visit www.bowl.com/youth/youth_home/scholarships