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updated: 11/17/2012 12:13 AM

Book it: Wille's focus is on leading Hoffman Estates

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  • Sarah Wille aims to make it another great season for Hoffman Estates' girls bowling team.

       Sarah Wille aims to make it another great season for Hoffman Estates' girls bowling team.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Hoffman Estates High School standout bowler Sarah Wille.

       Hoffman Estates High School standout bowler Sarah Wille.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

Sarah Wille says her favorite subjects at school are U.S. and World History, and that someday she wants to be an elementary school teacher.

Chances are she'll also be making some history this season on the bowling lanes for Hoffman Estates.

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Wille, a junior who's been a varsity competitor since day one as a freshman, looks to continue her success as she heads into the 2012-13 season.

She's been to two consecutive state tournaments and finished fifth in the Mid-Suburban League as a sophomore with a 195.15 average, the top underclassman score.

More importantly, though, the junior wants to give back to her squad and, as a team leader this year and co-captain, treat the younger players with the respect she was shown as a frosh.

"My first year was the best experience ever," said Wille of playing on a senior-dominated Hawks team. "I won't forget how they (the upperclassmen) welcomed me and made me feel like I was part of the family.

"We've got some younger kids on the team this year, and I remember when I was in that exact same position. My teammates never made me feel lost or uncomfortable, and I want to continue that tradition."

Wille has excelled for two straight years at the state tourney, which is held at Cherry Bowl Lanes at Rockford. As a freshman she recorded two games over 200, and last year came into her own with a 16th-place finish -- including six games over 200 with a high game of 259.

Not a bad showing in the pressure-packed, frenetic atmosphere of Cherry Bowl.

"Sarah is such a hard working bowler and student," said Hoffman coach Dan Pfligler. "She's very much a team player, and she always strives for the best for herself and her team.

"She works as hard as she can to improve herself as a bowler and a person."

And though her greatest successes came last season, Wille still looks at her first year as the year where she realized that she could be a major force in the prep bowling world.

"It was about that time that I fell in love with the sport," said the junior, who's been bowling since she was 5 years old. "It was great to be part of such a tight-knit group, and the excitement, the cheering, the tournaments -- what a great experience. That's what it's all about.

"I've always been active, with volleyball (she plays on the Hawks varsity), basketball and dancing -- but bowling is my sport."

Wille has made a commitment to do whatever it takes this season to make sure that she -- and her team -- are the best they can be.

"I've got a real good feeling that our team is going to be pretty good this year," said Wille. "We've got a great chance to make it back to state, and individually, my goal is to be the top bowler in (the MSL) conference."

A lofty objective to be sure, but Wille has the talent to do it, and for incentive she has no further to look than last year's champion, Elk Grove's Tedra Tado.

"We've bowled together since we were young," said Wille of the Grens grad, "and she's a great bowler. She had the drive to win conference and excel at state, and I've got the confidence that I can do it as well."

And with a newfound level of maturity as a junior, Wille feels that she knows that it will take to climb the mountain.

"You can't get down on yourself," said the junior. "I've learned over the last two years that you can be high-spirited, but you can let a bad frame or bad game bother you. There's always the next frame or the next game, and you've got to focus on that.

"When you find something that's wrong, all you have to do is go out and fix it."

To win the championship of the challenging and dynamic Mid-Suburban League, one of the state's top bowling conferences, she along with her colleagues will have to make the adjustment of competing at a new, unfamiliar site this season.

Rolling Meadows Lanes, the long-time home of MSL meets, closed over the summer. This year's crop of bowlers will be rolling at Arlington Lanes in Arlington Heights.

Wille spent a lot of time during the summer months trying to get a feel for the new location.

"I got a call over the summer from one of my teammates to tell me they were going to tear down Rolling Meadows (Lanes)," said Wille, "and I told them, 'You've got to be kidding.'

"It's going to take some time to learn the new lanes -- to be honest, I think it'll be more difficult than Meadows, and it will take some time to get acclimated. I have no idea who will or will not do well up there."

Only a junior, Wille has already been looking at colleges, and says she's interested in attending and bowling at such shools as Nebraska, Valparaiso, Vanderbilt and McKendree.

She'll be taking some college visits later this school year and next summer, but for now, the main goal is to lead the Hawks to a possible MSL championship and another Rockford tournament appearance . The Hawks were the last MSL team to win the state crown, in '06.

"We're a young team," said Wille, "but as I said, we're a family. I've got great expectations for us to be back to state."

Sounds like history in the making.

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