With their third season beginning, the Naperville Central bowling team is anticipating a strong season lead by coach Brian Dunn and multiple varsity captains. One such captain, senior Jake Kincade, has shown his skill and love of the game since childhood.
“My babysitter used to ask us what we’d want to do and I’d always choose bowling,” said Kincade. “Ever since then I’ve really enjoyed it. My coach helped me get a lot more into the sport, too.”
Dunn has taken his experience as a former coach for Plainfield North’s team and his time in the Professional Bowlers Association to build up Central’s program and help players like Kincade grow and prepare for competitions.
“With veteran players, it’s assessing where they’re at and where they came in from summer camp and trying to figure out one particular thing that we can improve their game with, so once we get to competition they can start putting that into practice,” said Dunn.
Since advancing to sectionals last year, Kincade has tried to bowl at least once a week to keep his skills sharp. Kincade is expected to be a key varsity player and continue his streak as a strong bowler, which he attributes to concentration and the support of his family and team.
“During competition, I’m really focused but also as a team we work pretty well when we have a joking manner during the competition. [Being] focused but also relaxed are two key components of the mindset,” said Kincade. “Team environment is really important because bowling is a team sport because in all the matches in the tournament it’s always five or six guys working together to compete against another team. You can’t win if just one guy’s doing well; we all need to compete and work together.”
Last season, the varsity boys qualified for regionals and sectionals, but this year the young team has set their sights on competing at state. Dunn says he is excited for this season to watch his varsity players and see them be the first bowling team in District 203 to advance to state.
“When they first came out to the very first meeting, I told them all that you can be the first to do anything and everything at this school with bowling. And they’ve achieved every single first, except for the one that has now become their main goal and that’s state. They put themselves in that position this year,” said Dunn.
With regionals in mid-January, Kincade and the rest of the bowling team have time to practice and assist one another and their new teammates. Almost, if not more importantly, it gives the team a chance to continue building strong relationships before their season picks up.
“We’ve all become pretty close friends just because in most matches we’re competing together and then we always have Saturday tournaments so there’s the bus ride and then we’re at the tournament for six or seven hours throughout the entire day,” said Kincade. “We definitely have a lot of time to bond and we’ve gotten pretty close.”
“It’s almost paramount that the team bonds well together, that they support each other,” said Dunn. “Not to mention that when things are going well as a collective group, the energy level [rises]. And that’s the thing that takes you from being a team that can get to sectionals to a team that can get to state.”
In bowling, it can be easy to get frustrated or over-excited during competitions, which is where Jake’s skill as a bowler shines through.
“Jake always is calm and collected. You can’t get over-excited in this game because your physical game starts to go away. He’s always within control and he’s always thinking about what he needs to do as well as seeing what his teammates need from him. I think that’s what he’s going to demonstrate throughout the year as captain that will be a great influence to the entire team,” said Dunn.
Kincade’s fellow varsity teammate, senior Joey Koscal, described the importance of team environment and the strengths Kincade shares.
“I’ve always loved Jake because he’s like the rock on the team,” said Koscol. “You can always count on him to be consistent no matter what, but he also knows how to have fun. He’s a person you always look at and you know he’s gonna perform the same way every single time, if not improving. Jake always pulls through.”
Kincade has learned to balance the concentration needed to perform well with assisting and being assisted by his fellow varsity members.
“Normally during competitions I try to stay relatively calm,” said Kincade. “I try not to let a bad shot get to far out of my head because if it does then it will end up ruining the rest of the game and potentially the entire match. I’ve learned to thrive off the support of my teammates because no matter what there’s always someone pushing you forward.”
Kincade, like many of his teammates, joined the bowling team without realizing how impactful and positive the experience would be.
“I started out joining the team as just thinking it would be something fun to do and it actually turned into something that I really enjoy doing and could potentially be lifelong,” said Kincade. “My favorite part is getting to bowl five times a week with some of my newer, closser friends and just improving every day, too.”
Kincade and the NCHS bowling team begin their season at home on November 2 to start working their way towards state.