Courtney Joyce is used to the puzzled looks.
She gets them just about every time a new classmate finds out where she’s headed following volleyball season: to the bowling alley.
Joyce, the 2013 SouthtownStar Girls Volleyball Player of the Year, is also one of the top bowlers on Mother McAuley’s squad.
“People are always like ‘What? You’re going from volleyball to bowling? What are you doing? That’s crazy,’” Joyce said. “It’s funny because growing up I was always more of a bowler than a volleyball player. I’ve always loved bowling. It’s just so much fun.”
When Joyce was visiting high schools as an eighth grader, a bowling team was one thing she was looking for.
“I went up to the McAuley volleyball coaches and asked them if they had a bowling team at the school and they were like ‘What? Bowling?’” Joyce said.
McAuley didn’t have a team then, but established the program Joyce’s sophomore year. She joined the team last season as a junior.
“I was just thrilled that they had people who wanted to come in and bowl,” Joyce said. “I had no idea that there were people at McAuley who wanted to bowl.”
Being part of a newly-formed program that’s still trying to establish itself presents a polar opposite experience from playing for the McAuley volleyball team, historically the state’s most dominant team.
“As one of the older players (on the bowling team), we wanted to make it fun,” Joyce said. “We wanted people to want to be here, not get scared away. We wanted people to feel like they belonged somewhere, and this team is a great place to belong. It doesn’t matter how much we win, as long as we have fun.”
That approach is certainly different than the attitude Joyce brings to volleyball season, and she relishes the chance for the pressure to be off a bit when the winter begins.
“It’s a fun switch from volleyball season to bowling season,” she said. “There’s nothing better than it. I get so excited for bowling. Volleyball’s great, too, but going into bowling season is just so much fun. I don’t want to say it’s a break, but it’s a stress reliever after volleyball.”
A setter on the McAuley volleyball team who has earned a volleyball scholarship to Western Illinois, Joyce began bowling long before she became a star on the court.
“I started bowling when I was 4,” she said. “I started in a grammar school league and then I’d bowl in rec leagues every Saturday. When I was 10, I went downstate for a big tournament for the first time. I’ve been doing this awhile.”
Bowling presents a different sort of challenge than volleyball, and Joyce welcomes that.
“I just came out of volleyball, a really physical sport,” she said. “Then I go to bowling, which is more of a focus sport. It’s a mental game. I like that.”