SYCAMORE - Andy Hampton compares leading the Sycamore girls bowling team to driving a bus.
The first-year head coach takes over after serving as an assistant coach last season. A rookie himself, Hampton will be in charge of a team that will rely on many underclassmen in its varsity lineup.
“I was a passenger before, I was going along for the ride,” Hampton said. “But now with coach Rick Davis with me, I feel like I’m driving the bus and we’re just trying to keep it on the road. We’re a young team. We’re all going to go through some growing pains.”
Two key returners from last year will be sophomores Kelly Drake and Kelsey Johnston. Both got varsity experience last year as freshmen.
Drake said her main takeaway from the 2012-13 season was learning to have fun, but keep focus. She also said the varsity schedule, including the long days of travel, wasn’t easy to adapt to.
“It was good,” Drake said. “It took a while to get used to traveling so far away on Saturdays, being so far away, and bowling six games every day.”
Both Drake and Johnston put in work over the offseason, bowling in weekly leagues. Johnston said the biggest thing she’s gained from last season is more consistency in her game.
Davis and Hampton team to give the Spartans a couple of experienced coaches. Hampton says Davis deals more with bowling fundamentals and getting players from the ball rack to the finish while he can help make adjustments and read oil patterns on lanes during meets or tournaments.
“[Hampton’s] funny, but professional at the same time,” Johnston said. “He makes sure everything is fun. It works out really well.”
Hampton admits there will be a learning curve. He said the team’s youth has its positives and negatives. While many haven’t dealt with the pressure of bowling in tournaments or big meets, they also haven’t developed bad habits within their shots.
“They’re basically clay and we’re trying to model them into a museum piece,” Hampton said. “It’s boring, it gets repetitive, but we want them to do the same thing over and over and it’s hard to get young kids to learn to do that.”