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From Norway to Northview, with Strikes to Spare

Exchange Student Part of Bowling Team’s 100th Straight Conference Win

When Emilie Bakklund came to Northview from Norway as an exchange student last fall, she had no way of knowing she’d end up joining a bowling juggernaut.

Truth be told, she didn’t even know much about bowling until joining the Northview High varsity girls bowling team, which recently racked up its 100th consecutive conference victory.

The streak may not have raised quite the hoopla of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s 100th straight win Monday night. But for Emilie, the honor has added zest to an already wonderful school experience.

“I heard they were good, but not this good,” Emilie said with a smile before a recent match with Jenison at Northfield Lanes. “It’s just amazing. The girls have been so nice.”

Not that she had any training for it, at all. “We have a bowling alley in my town, but I’ve like been to it twice,” she said, rather sheepishly. “I’m not very good.”

Her teammates and coach give her credit where it’s due, though. Coach Mike Anderson said Emilie “gives us some depth” on the seven-person team. “She has gotten progressively better.”

Team captain Kelly Keen also gives Emilie props, especially since she invited her to join the team. “If you want something fun to do while you’re here, you might as well join,” she told Emilie.

“She is the only one who really had no experience, so it’s been really great to watch her go from nothing at all to where she is now,” said Kelly, who along with teammate Abbi Brewer is a four-year all-conference bowler. “It’s fun to have someone on the team … from another country, and all that brings.”

Emili Bakklund said being on the bowling team has added to an “amazing” school year

A Pin to Remember it By

The team last week extended its win streak to 102 in the OK White Conference, a run that began on Dec. 14, 2009 against East Grand Rapids. Their last conference loss was to Lowell, whom they defeated on Jan. 25 for their 100th straight. The team has lost some non-conference games in that span but is undefeated this year. They’ve won seven straight league championships, a title for which they will again vie this Saturday, Feb. 18.

Anderson said he never told the girls they were closing in on their 100th win or discusses the continuing streak with them. “Our teams are very business-like,” he said. “We just bowl and do our job.”

The job of bowling is pretty demanding, but well worth it, said Emilie, who pronounces her name “ah-MEEL-ya.”

“I didn’t expect it to be this much practice,” she said. “The team spirit is part of what I’m doing it for – just getting to know more people, creating the best year that I can.”

That year has been “amazing,” said Emilie, who is staying with Kevin and Sarah Weber and their daughter Viola. “My host family are the best.”

Though a senior here, she will have one more year to finish her secondary schooling when she returns to her scenic island hometown of Harstad. She hopes to study science and biotechnology in a university. She’ll bring back great memories of her year in Northview, and something else.

“I’ll always remember the bowling pin we got on our 100th match,” she said with a smile. “I’ll take it with me and have it up in my room.”

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers series and issues stories for all districts. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio


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