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Unconventional and EXCITING!

When you think of sports at the high school and middle school levels, certain words immediately come to mind:  baseball, basketball, football, track and field, tennis and golf.  There are sports that offer opportunities for Hanover students, but often without any glory or recognition.  It should come as no surprise that Hanover athletes excel in these sports as well as the more conventional ones.

All sports require certain skill sets and support from parents and often the community.  Quietly, students from Hanover have earned honors and scholarships in both Bowling and Trap and Skeet.  While the IHSSA does not recognize bowling as an official sport, this year Hanover Central High School graduated two senior girls, who both signed letters of intent and received scholarships in bowling including: Hope Walkowiak and Ruthie Rakowski.  From last year’s class of 2020, three Hanover graduates continue their bowling careers in college, including:  Marissa Metcalf, Isabelle Sitkowski and Alora Kelly. 

Hanover participates in a long season that begins in the fall (September or October) through February as part of the Quad County Conference which includes schools in south Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton counites.  Country Lanes in Lowell serves as the team’s home lanes and practice facility under the leadership of coaches, Martha Bozeman and Wes Elliot.  This year, the Hanover Central Middle School season was extended as the team made their way through sectionals, regionals, semi-state and become the first ever Hanover Central Middle School State Bowling Champions. 

four boys wearing medals with a police officer

State Champion bowlers: Caleb Laurinas, Hank Walkowiak, Bryan Barber, and Landon Laurinas were escorted back into town by the Cedar Lake Police Department following their triumphant FIRST PLACE finish at the State Championships in Anderson, Indiana. 

“I just want parents and families to know that there is a lot of opportunity out there for both boys and girls at any skill level,” said Christa Walkowiak, mom to Hank Walkowiak, who as an individual placed third in the state finals.  In fact, the opportunities moved to the forefront this year when 5th grader, Landon Laurinas earned scholarship money for college at the Regional Tournament.

Student bowlers’ practice and participate in meets on a weekly basis and, like any other sport, face environmental obstacles.  Is a surface wood, or synthetic?  Is it oiled or not oiled? Each meet is as different as any venue in traditional sports.  At the heart of it all is a skillset of muscle memory and focus and the opportunity to participate without regard to physical stature and previous experience.  “Everyone is welcome, and everyone participates,” said Mrs. Walkowiak.

Similarly, 2021 has been a year of tremendous success for the Hanover Central Trap and Skeet Team.  The co-ed opportunities are boundless, and it is also a sport where siblings can compete side by side, making it the perfect family endeavor.  The Trap and Skeet team participates in Conference #3, which includes the biggest teams in the state.  The Hanover team was founded and officially approved in 2019 and has grown to currently include 57 middle and high school student athletes. 

Competitors relax under the team awning highlighted by the team banner that carries the mission statement of the Hanover Central Trap and Skeet team:  "A community of outdoor sports, encouraging support, safety, camaraderie, leadership, sportsmanship, teamwork and fun!"

Two separate disciplines make up Trap and Skeet.  In trap, five competitors at a time line up to shoot single shots at clay targets launched from a single location.  In skeet shooting multiple shots are required to hit clay targets launched from multiple directions.  Again, as in any other sport, environmental conditions like wind, rain, and cold all play a part in a sport that doesn’t depend on size or previous athletic success.  It does take supreme concentration and mental toughness to be successful and successful Hanover has been!

A large crowd of athletes, parents and team supporters were on hand for this year's annual Hanover Trap and Skeet picnic.

1800 students from across the nation are eligible to compete in the Trap and Skeet Nationals in mid-July in Mason, Michigan.  Students participating are those that have the highest rolling weekly average for the season.  13 Hanover student athletes made the cut this year and have been invited to compete.  It is a very strong testament to the tenacity of the young team and it’s coaches:  Mike Owen, who serves as head coach and John Perz, Trey Walkowiak, Steve Davlantes, Don Scott, Mike Licina and Dan Stadt who all serve as assistant coaches for the large team. 

Just some of the hardware brought home to Hanover by Trap and Skeet Team athletes.  

From a 7 and 1/2” pocket target in bowling, to a 5” clay target in trap and skeet, both sports require student athletes to be at the top of their game just like more conventional and well-known sports and offer opportunities far beyond middle and high school.  Unconventional, sure…exciting opportunities, definitely!