Bowling: Carly Larson learned a lot during great league season
More than any honor or award that could be earned, Carly Larson’s biggest goal for her final season in youth leagues was to simply improve her game and attain a higher level of consistency.
To say the Merrillville native’s drive to achieve that goal was challenged when her average was in the 180s after the first two weeks of the season is an understatement. But, as she as done so many times in her short, but already memorable, career, Larson found her stride and eventually finished the league season with a 214 average and a high series of 780.
Apart from finishing her high school career as a state singles champion, Larson also won the Post-Tribune girls tournament for the first time last month — giving her more than enough accomplishments to be named P-T Girls Youth League Bowler of the Year.
“Improving my game is always one of my big goals,” Larson said. “This year I was really working on being consistent and bowling well. I definitely believe I’ve become a more consistent bowler. I know what it takes and to have the mindset.
“I’m learning better how to throw the ball and do it the same way. I’ve also learned what it takes to not get upset. I know how to forgive and forget for myself. That’s been one of the biggest things that I’ve learned this year. I’ve learned to not get upset over a bad shot. You just go back and fix it the next time.”
Larson had to “fix” her game at the beginning of league season to get her average back into the 200 range she’s been accustomed to.
“I needed a mental change at the beginning of the season,” Larson said. “A lot of the improvement was with spares and seven pins — one of the things I had previously struggled with the most. I started consistently throwing the ball the same way and have the ball coming off my hand the same way.”
While the coaching she’s received from her father and mother, Dave and Paula, has been instrumental, Larson is transitioning in the area of self-coaching.
“I really can’t take much credit because they’ve been teaching me my entire life, but it was me learning to coach myself,” she said “Even though it was a good thing to have Dad, especially, there. I’d ask him, ‘Is this a good idea?’ and he would tell me yes or no about an adjustment or ball change.
“All that practice definitely paid off, learning to adjust to the oil patterns the right way and not lose my head. I worked a lot on spare shooing and also a lot on my mental game. The consistent weeks of bowling (740 and 760 series) eventually followed.”
And as Larson’s average increased, so did her high games — which she topped off with a career-best 780 series toward the end of the season on games of 279, 260, and 241.
When Larson won the Indiana high school singles championship, she admitted there were concerns about expectations in the aftermath. However, that proved to be a non-factor.
“One of my fears was the hype of state and living up to it,” she said. “But I came back and it was no transition at all. It was like going back to normal.”
Larson can’t deny that she learned more lessons this year about her game in the highly-competitive high school season. But she also said those lessons learned, especially self-forgiveness, impacted her league scores for the better.
“League was really good practice for me, and it kept me consistent,” she said. “Learning to forgive myself was way more important that any high scores of average in league play. But the individual accomplishments are a very cool feeling — a cherry on top of the sundae.”
As she prepares for the next chapter of her bowling career at Valparaiso University, Larson is excited about the journey that lies ahead.
“I’m looking forward to new experiences, friends and travels,” she said. “And I’m so excited to be able to bowl, again, with my sister Jill for my freshman year.”