By Ashley Hocking
On any given Saturday, you can find senior Kierstan Warren at Royal Crest Lanes amongst the crowd at the Saturday Morning Youth Bowling League. Warren has participated with the League since she was 3 years old.
“Bowling has always been my life,” Warren said. “It’s always been my passion since the day I was born. My dad knew it was in my blood. It runs back in my family a long time.”
Warren has been a high school state-level competitor for the past two years and brought home a medal each time. She credits her success as a bowler to her personal coach and father, Wes Warren.
“My dad has been my coach since I started,” Warren said. “He puts a lot more pressure on me since he’s my dad. He’s constantly with me and makes sure that I am bowling and constantly keeping up.”
For Warren, it is a privilege and an honor to be a part of the Lawrence High School bowling program.
“Everybody makes everybody feel welcome,” Warren said. “From the very first day that we meet each other, it’s like an automatic friendship. It’s a bond that you can’t really break.”
But clocking in so many hours with friends and teammates at the local bowling alley hasn’t been easy on her health. One month before the bowling season began last year, Warren tore the ulnar collateral ligament in her right thumb from overuse.
“No rest. Just bowling, bowling, bowling. Literally every single day over the summer or in any free time that I have, I am always bowling,” Warren said. “I was so afraid that I was going to come in to the season and constantly not be able to bowl.”
To nurse her injury back to health, Warren underwent physical therapy and countless visits to the doctor’s office, in addition to taking prescribed medications to ease the pain.
“I’ve had to struggle through pain, tears and feeling like my thumb’s going to fall off,” Warren said. “But I’ve achieved so much anyways.”
Despite the torn ligament in her right thumb, she finished the season with a medal from the Regional, All-Sunflower League and State competitions.
Warren’s dedication to the sport and abilities have not gone unnoticed by head bowling coach, Paula Bastemeyer.
“She sets goals for herself and works to achieve them,” Bastemeyer said. “She always puts forth her best effort in competition [and] stays focused on each shot. She is a player who maintains her composure.”
After almost being sidelined last year, Warren returned to the bowling lanes with a renewed vigor this season.
“When I’m out on the bowling lanes, I’m someone completely different than anybody could see at school or at a job or at home,” Warren said. “I’m a friendly person, but I’m probably the most competitive person, too.”
Varsity bowler junior Ivan Davidson has noticed a definite change in Warren from last season.
“She’s a lot more enthusiastic,” Davidson said. “She’s better this year.”
Warren scored her career best Jan. 21 at the Topeka Seaman Invitational meet with a three-game series total of 638. Just eight days later, Warren increased her personal best by 73, giving her a series total of 711 at the Washburn Rural Quad on Jan. 28.
Warren’s individual successes not only benefit her but also the bowling team as a whole.
“Bowling is a sport that requires a team effort,” Bastemeyer said.
The team has confidently competed all season and received nothing but recognition.
“All of us came in the season with extremely high averages,” Warren said. “We’ve taken either second or first at each of the meets we’ve gone through so far. We just come out and we compete with all that we have and give our hearts to the game.”
To the other bowlers on the Lawrence High School bowling team, Warren’s story serves as an inspiration.
“Kierstan has one of the highest averages on the team, so others turn to her for advice,” Bastemeyer said.
After practice, Warren often helps other bowlers work on their technique and improve their skills.
“I sometimes stay after practice and she helps me figure out what I need to fix,” sophomore Morgan Sisson said. “She really helps me bowl better.”
Warren plans to continue her 14-year bowling career at the university level next year.
“I have many coaches from colleges that are interested in me for bowling,” Warren said. “I think I’m most likely going to go to Newman University in Wichita for bowling. Their coach really, really wants me.”
For Warren, it is hard to see a long-term future for herself that doesn’t include bowling.
“I’m really hoping to make it pro,” Warren said. “I’m going to continue as far as I can go and as far as my body, my mind and definitely my heart will let me go.”