Back in the early 2000s, Melanie Williams was a standout for the Granite City bowling team, qualifying for state twice and earning all-Southwestern Conference honors three times.
Now, Williams is guiding the Granite City bowling program and hopes that the Warriors will be a state powerhouse in both the boys and girls divisions in the future.
“I want them to learn more about the game, improve their own game and realize what a team is and how to keep each other up, have a victory and be able to bring home a state title one day for boys and girls,” said Williams, who wrapped up her third season as head coach this winter.
Granite City didn’t have a state qualifier in the boys and girls divisions this winter. Still, Williams was pleased with the way both her boys and girls teams performed this season.
“They had an OK season,” Williams said. “I see a good future for them going into next season. This was actually my best year yet coaching with the chemistry of the team and the participation of them.”
The boys' team qualified three bowlers to sectionals – junior Justin Simpson and freshmen Corey and Ricky Hard. All of them bowled 36 games this winter.
Simpson was the Warriors’ top bowler with a 198 average. Williams said she’s optimistic that Simpson will turn in a solid senior season next winter.
“I see a very bright future for him,” Williams said. “This year, he wasn’t getting any luck, but I think next year, he’s going to come back and knock it out for sure.”
Ricky Hard was the Warriors’ second-best bowler with a 194 average. Corey was No. 3 with a 180.
“I see good things from them,” Williams said. “They’re very dedicated and they’re willing to learn and improve their game.”
The Granite City girls team was led by junior Kennedy Rainwater with a career-best 155 average.
“Kennedy has definitely improved and I see her coming up next year as well,” Williams said.
Williams, whose maiden name is Mayes, graduated from Granite City High in 2003. She competed in the state bowling tournament in her junior and senior seasons.
Williams took over the Granite City bowling program in 2012. In her first season as coach, the boys team won its first sectional championship -- it won the Alton Sectional by 34 pins -- and qualified for state for the fourth time.
The Warriors, who have their home matches at Airport Plaza Bowl in Bethalto, will lose just one bowler – senior William Grant — to graduation.