Issaquah teen bowler is one of the best in nation

June 21, 2011

By Katie Melton

Lieber holds her competition bowling ball in the family garage, outfitted as the family’s full-scale pro shop, where she and other family members work on their bowling balls before matches. Contributed

If you find yourself bowling against 17-year-old Correen Lieber, good luck.

Lieber, a senior at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall and Issaquah resident since 1999, has been bowling competitively for more than three years, competing in a tournament nearly every weekend.

“She has won almost every women’s youth event in the state,” Jim Kent, Lieber’s coach, said. Kent is a part owner of Nob Hill Bowl Inc. in Yakima, where Lieber travels about twice a month for coaching.

In May, Lieber won the Washington State USBC Pepsi Youth Championship in Tacoma, earning her scholarship money toward college.

“I got $500 in scholarship money, a paid entry into the USBC National Junior Gold Tournament in Las Vegas in July, and at least $500 for related travel expenses,” Lieber said. “Since February, I’ve won every tournament with a girls division.”

Last year, Lieber was the champion in the 2010 Washington State BPAA High School Girls Singles tournament, as well as the all-events champion in the 2010 Washington State Girls Scratch tournament.

Her average score is well over 200 on house shots and between 180 and 190 in sports conditions.

“Sports conditions are when you play different parts of the lanes,” Lieber said. “House shots are what people think of when they think of bowling.”

Female bowlers aren’t the only ones who may face Lieber on the lanes. She bowls against boys, too.

“As there are rarely scratch tournaments just for girls, she usually has to bowl against the boys,” her father Randy Lieber said.

The Northwest right now is bursting at the seams with great young bowlers.

“We have 24 kids out of the Northwest going to college with bowling athletic scholarships,” Kent said. “Collegiate bowling is a wonderful athletic event right now.”

As a graduating senior this year, Lieber faces a busy summer. She will compete nationally, and prepare for her next transition in life: college.

“I’m really looking forward to the summer to see how she does nationally,” Kent said. “She was right on the edge of making it into the finals last year, and with some of the changes we made this year, she will be very competitive in the finals.”

Lieber recently signed on to bowl for Robert Morris University, in Chicago. She also received an athletic scholarship from the university.

“Correen was being heavily recruited by a large number of colleges, but decided early on to attend Robert Morris,” her father said. “At Robert Morris, Correen was offered the top amount of athletic scholarship, along with some other grant money.”

She deserves it.

Lieber not only does incredibly well in bowling tournaments, but she also is active in the community.

She has been on the board of directors for the nonprofit organization, the Greater Seattle Youth Bowling Association for two years, and also helps manage the association’s website — www.youthbowling.org.

“She is a team player, she is very serious about her sport and she is one that we can count on to do committee work or to help out where it’s needed,” said Sandra Nelson, president of the Greater Seattle Youth Bowling Association. “She’s a very good role model for our young children.”

Her tournament scholarship earnings also reflect her academic aspirations.

“I have probably at least $5,500 in scholarship money saved up for school that I have earned in leagues and tournaments,” Lieber said. “In addition, Robert Morris will be paying 75 percent of my college tuition.”

Lieber wants to study accounting at Robert Morris, and to continue bowling and competing.

“What makes her special is that in order to reach the level she’s at, you have to have some God-given ability,” Kent said. “But you also have to have the work ethic to go along with it, and she has it.”

Bowling for scholarships?

There are two levels of scholarships for bowlers at Correen Lieber’s level.

First, there is scholarship money that can be earned while bowling in one’s respective league and local tournaments. Nearly all youth bowlers earn some scholarship money during their years in the junior programs, with some having accumulated as much as $30,000 by the time they graduate. Second, athletic scholarships can be offered by universities to bowlers.

“People don’t think of bowling as a sport, but it’s really competitive,” Lieber, who has lived in Issaquah since 1999, said. “People don’t think that.”

“At the university level, collegiate bowling is treated exactly like any other major sport,” her father Randy Lieber said. “The same restrictions are on bowling coaches that are on football coaches, depending on the NCAA levels.

To earn an athletic scholarship, the process is similar to any other sport, too. Bowlers are recruited by coaches who attend the major national youth tournaments.

Scholarships can range from a fraction of tuition all the way to a full-ride scholarship.

In Lieber’s case, Robert Morris University will pay 75 percent of her college tuition.

On average, the top male bowling recruits receive 50 percent of their tuition. Female bowling recruits are able to receive higher scholarships due to the assistance of Title IX requirements.

Northwest bowlers are very sought after, but there are very few to no collegiate bowling programs in the region. The closest is in Nebraska.

Katie Melton is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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