For Destinee Howard, it is no longer good enough to merely be one of the best bowlers on a traditionally top team.
The Sterling High School senior has graduated to unquestioned team leader. Last year, those duties fell to then-seniors Amber Granzow, Samantha Lewis and Brandy Behrens.
For a bowler that head coach Dennis Black described as “quiet as a mouse her freshman year,” it hasn’t been the easiest of transitions for Howard.
“It’s kind of hard for me, because I used to take a step back and let the other people do it,” she said, “so it’s kind of hard for me to just step up and help people.”
Now Howard and junior Magan Tintori, the other returning regular from last year’s squad, have the green light to help teammates, not only in practice, but in matches as well. It’s something Black encourages, as words of wisdom from a peer may carry more weight.
It’s more important this season than ever as the Sterling lineup will likely be a fluid situation, constantly changing behind Howard and Tintori until four bowlers establish themselves as varsity regulars.
“[Howard and Tintori] recognize if we are to have a modicum of success, that is, to be competitive in conference play,” Black said, “those four girls, whoever they are, need to bowl at a higher level than they have started the season on.”
Howard has been a fixture in the Sterling lineup each of her four seasons. She averaged 171.9 as a freshman, and increased that to 177.1 as a sophomore and 190.4 as a junior. Her career average of 180.5 is fourth-best in school history, behind only Heather Wolf (189.8), Granzow (186.6) and older sister Allyson Howard (182.2).
Destinee Howard came from a family of bowlers. Her mother, Dena Allen, was a member of the Sterling team that finished second at state in 1987. Her uncle, Doug Allen, and grandmother, Sharon Allen, were also accomplished bowlers.
“I started bowling when I was 3 years old,” Howard said. “Mom got me started in the Saturday morning league, and it’s just something I’ve loved to do ever since.”
Black noted he hasn’t had to tinker too much with Howard’s form. He’s simply tried to make her have a more consistent release point, and to shorten her backswing a tad.
“All I’ve had the privilege of doing was refining the skills she already had,” Black said. “I really haven’t had to correct much. There’s a lot of skill there.”
Howard, a right-hander, noted she was blessed with a natural hook on her ball. She doesn’t roll the ball exceptionally hard, instead concentrating on placement rather than speed.
“I hit my mark consistently,” Howard said, “and that’s what makes everything effective.”
Howard has been a member of Sterling teams that qualified for state the last 3 years. She had a 12-game total of 2,275 as a junior, good for 61st individually. Sterling finished 10th as a team.
As a sophomore, Howard had a six-game total of 1,117, but did not qualify to bowl the second day at state. As a freshman, she bowled two games (136-149) the first day of competition, then four games (183-173-137-223) the second day to help the Golden Warriors place 11th as a team.
“My big goal is to get back to state for the fourth time,” Howard said. “We have a lot of newcomers this year, so I don’t know about doing it as a team again, but I think me and Magan have a good chance. We just have to bowl like we can at the sectional.”
FYI: 4-year regular for Golden Warriors’ bowling team. ... Averaged 190.6 as a junior, and has career ave. of 180.5. ... Top high school performances have been 262 (game), 690 (series) and 1,241 (6-game series). ... Has bowled a 200 game or better 64 times.