Erin Heuer had to be talked into returning to the sport of bowling in high school, then needed another pep talk to stick with it once she did.
The St. Charles East junior is glad she’s stuck around.
Coming off a state tournament berth last year as a sophomore. Heuer is again among East’s leaders this winter as the Saints near the season’s stretch run.
Heuer bowled regularly during her elementary school years before taking a multiyear hiatus around middle school.
“I was doing horseback riding at the time, and that was more important to me than bowling,” Heuer said. “I didn’t want to wake up early on Saturday mornings to go bowling in my league.”
Family ties, however, tugged Heuer back to the lanes.
Her older sister, Allison, shined in East’s bowling program before she moved on to bowl collegiately at Lindenwood (Mo.), where she is a sophomore. Allison Heuer convinced Erin that participating in high school bowling would be worthwhile.
“She kind of put the fire back in my eyes,” Heuer said.
But Heuer struggled as a freshman and questioned whether she made a mistake in returning. Her mother, Karen, coaxed Heuer to keep working at it, and sophomore year was “when it set in that I want to be good, I want to focus on this,” she said.
She began taking regular lessons with private instructor Marty Miller, who revamped her release. Success soon followed.
Heuer was one of two Saints – along with current senior Laura Crocker – to advance to the IHSA state meet last year. She had difficulty acclimating to the lane conditions at Cherry Bowl in Rockford, and was upset with herself for not remaining as mentally tough during her series as she intended.
“I cried all the way home,” Heuer said. “I, like, gave, up. It’s my own fault I didn’t make [the final round].”
But Heuer intends to build off that state experience, and she appears on track for another crack at advancing deep into the postseason.
“I think it really just kind of invigorated her to do something even better when she goes down again, which we’re hoping for,” East coach Tom Cole said.
Cole said Heuer entered the week averaging around 193, within a couple pins of team leader Dana Brandt.
“They’re going back-and-forth at each other,” Cole said. “It’s good, healthy competition. A lot of good vibes between each other. If one’s bowling good, the other one’s still giving them a high five and saying ‘Good job.’ It’s nice to see that [camaraderie] between the two of them.”