---- — Lately I've been writing a lot about the Valley's large and successful group of high school and junior bowlers.
And the point I'm building to is, for anyone serious about the sport, there is a life for them in competitive bowling that goes beyond high school.
A few years ago, Lewisburg High School graduate Heather Shoemaker made a big splash by becoming a member of the women's bowling team at Kutztown University. She was a key contributor during the Golden Bears' infancy period as a new Division I program.
And of course you have Shikellamy product Shelby Derr, who has just completed an outstanding freshman season at Saint Francis (Pa.) University, itself a fairly recent addition to the Division I ranks.
In 2012-13 Derr was named to the Northeast Conference All-Rookie Team, as well as to the NEC All-Tournament team after she led the Red Flash to the NEC Tournament finals.
Through recruiting research, Saint Francis coach Tom Falbo discovered Derr's talents at a young age.
"I saw her scoring ability as far back as her freshman year," he said. "It was at the end of her junior year when I saw her compete for the first time.
"Seeing how she threw it -- her ball motion and striking power -- it was clear the ability she possessed."
Obviously, being the daughter of an owner of a bowling alley Derr has grown up around the lanes, and she has gotten some of the best coaching and instruction available. So whenever she's on the lanes, Derr no doubt knows what she's doing.
And it has all served Derr well during her transition into becoming a Division I college bowler.
Derr bowled in a total of 42 games this season for Saint Francis and posted an average of 199.61. During baker play, she bowled 459 complete frames with an 18.67 frame average.
"Shelby is a player that stays within herself, and she has the ability to impact any match because of her ability to repeat shots. Once she finds it, she settles in very well," said Falbo.
"Shelby's A-game is the inside line. We have worked on versatility which she is starting to show great strides. Her willingness to play any part of the lane will be the key to a bright future."
Even though we're in an era now where athletes are getting bigger, stronger, faster and more athletically skilled at a younger age, Falbo was nevertheless impressed with what he has gotten from Derr this season.
"It's tough for any freshman to succeed in Division I athletics regardless of the sport. In NCAA bowling, it is rare to see," he said. "However, we set the atmosphere right away that the players showing high-level consistent performance will be in the lineup. In life beyond college, this is the very quick lesson the ladies will learn.
"So for our team, we have had freshmen since the beginning of our program make an impact. We had three who stepped up this year, and Shelby made a great showing."
SUNBURY'S BEST CROWNED: The Sunbury Area Bowling Association's annual City Tournament came to an end last weekend, and Northumberland's Paul Leese walked away as the big winner.
Leese, at 71 years young, won the singles title with an 824 total over runner-up Ross Massa (799). Third to fifth went to Frank Fisher (758), Allan Krouse (751) and Mike Santor (732).
Leese also teamed up with Roger Lebo to claim the doubles title with a combined total of 1465. Steve Miller and Mark Derr were second with a 1420, while the other finishers were Tony Balantincz-Bill Snyder (1414), Lee Botts-Tim Botts (1413) and Craig Hackenberg-Denise Derr (1410).
The all events title was also won by Leese, 2266-2244 over Derr. Third through fifth were Fisher (2206), Martin Neal (2194) and Mark Bertoni (2144).
The team title was won by Mill Misfits over Fubar 5, 3570-3520. Team members for Mill Misfits are Mike Emrick, Kolby Longenberger, Jason Stover, Paul Miller and Amanda Haines. Fubar 5 members are Steve Swope, Wayne Dobson, Rick Berry, Mickey Koppenhaver and Bob Kratzer.
Until next time, stay out of the gutters.
n Brian Holtzapple covers bowling for The Daily Item. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.