Two young Midland bowlers are heading to nationals Sunday.
Cousins Ryder Ladouceur, 15, and Blake Weicker, 14, earned the honour after capturing the Junior Boys doubles title at the Ontario 5 Pin Youth Bowling Championships held recently in Woodstock.
“The Youth Bowl Canada (YBC) Championships is the elite tournament of the year for the high average youth bowlers across Canada, where the best of the best compete to make it to the top,” explains Ryder’s Mom Marlena Ladouceur, whose father Dennis Brabant has owned and operated Midland’s Bayshore Lanes since 1985.
“Our entire family is so proud of them and we will be in Oshawa to cheer them on. This is something they’ve been striving for.”
The pair, who have come close at past provincial championships, finishing in second and third place, will be representing Southern Ontario in Oshawa July 10-12. They’ll be competing against teams from seven other provinces to try to bring the national title back to Bayshore Lanes.
“This is the first national finals since COVID,” Ladouceur says.
Both Ladouceur and Blake’s Mom Miranda Weicker grew up bowling in the YBC program and strived to qualify for the national championships, but never were able to get beyond the provincial finals.
“Ryder and Blake have both been 5-Pin bowling since they were three years old in the Bayshore Lanes youth bowling program,” Ladouceur says, “and have been trying hard to qualify for nationals since they were eight years old, the earliest age you can qualify.”
The boys are coached by their grandfather Dennis Brabant, who has been guiding youth bowlers since 1977. But this will be his first time coaching at the nationals.
“He’s coached them for several years,” Ladouceur says. “This is extremely exciting because it’s an elite competition.”
Over the years, Bayshore Lanes’ YBC program has produced numerous provincial and national champions, including Marlena Ladouceur’s sister Melanie (Brabant) Middlebro, who won the national finals as an 11-year-old bantam singles bowler to give this well-known local bowling family its only Canadian champion to date.