DeKALB – Sycamore senior Austin Verhaeghe’s bowling journey might have started as a middle schooler at Four Seasons Sports in Sycamore, but his high school career ended with his second straight Bowler of the Year honor.
Verhaeghe finished first in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference, averaged a 215 on the season and was named the 2017-18 Daily Chronicle Boys Bowler of the Year.
“Back in sixth or seventh grade, my parents owned the food place over at Four Seasons,” Verhaeghe said. “We were there every night, and I would bowl regularly with a house ball. Then I just thought, ‘What if I got into it?’ and see what I could do. When I got into high school, I never thought I would be where I am now.”
Although bowling largely is an individual sport, where only one player participates at a time and there is no human defender, Verhaeghe believes in the power of teamwork in bowling.
“If I make a bad shot, or a teammate makes a bad shot, we have our teammates there to pick us up or help make changes,” Verhaeghe said. “We’re all pretty close outside of bowling, too. So, if there is something else going on outside of bowling, we help each other with that, too.”
Verhaeghe and Sycamore coach Aaron Williams have known each another since Verhaeghe started bowling as a youngster. They met at various league nights over the years, and their relationship only grew stronger from there.
“My freshman year, [Williams] definitely helped me technique-wise,” Verhaeghe said. “Mentally, he helped me. ... [Williams] told me not to worry and just bowl.”
Verhaeghe will be bowling next season at Judson University. Verhaeghe said that while he is excited about the next chapter in his life, he also is a little worried about all of the normal things that high school seniors worry about, such as starting over as a freshman again and making new friends.
“My advice to him is to just enjoy it because it is not going to be around forever,” Williams said. “College will be there for four years. ... [Verhaeghe] just needs to enjoy the time while he is there and keep working hard. Working hard is what gets you far in life. ...You can’t live in the last shot. Don’t let the last shot affect your next shot.”