Chelsea Winkelman demonstrates focus and consistency.

When Grand Haven bowling coach Patrick Mitchell talked with us regarding Chelsea Winkelman the words “focus” and “focused” entered the conversation numerous times. Mitchell even went so far as to say that her focus was the strongest part of her game.


“Chelsea is a competitor,” Mitchell said. “When she gets locked in it is like watching a robot. She is probably the most focused one on the team.”

Focus and consistency are two attributes that separate great bowlers from the good ones. They have paid off for Chelsea, a junior, in the fact that she rolled a conference high single game score last season with a 276 and is currently leading the conference with a 259. Her concentration helps her keep her average consistently in the 180 to 190 range. Don’t get the impression that Winkelman is off in her own little world when she is bowling – she combines her attention to detail with a great deal of team spirit and is not shy when it comes to cheering on the rest of the Bucs.

Chelsea got involved with bowling when her friend, and fellow Buccaneer bowler, Meranda Helder talked her into getting into a league. Chelsea had so much fun it was an easy step to try out for the school team. She and Meranda, along with Mariah Olthof and Ashley Lacey, make up the core of the Bucs team. The fact that all four of them are juniors is a blessing and a curse for Coach Mitchell. He is glad to have had them all on the team together for the past three years, but he knows it is going to be a sad day when they all graduate.

Chelsea summed up her attitude toward her favorite sport early on in our conversation when she said, “I just love it.”

She loves every aspect of the sport and bowls as much as she can in her free time. Chelsea made it clear that she is “a bowler for life” and shares her enthusiasm with her younger teammates – she has even been working with some middle school bowlers lately. Chelsea is very appreciative of her coach and his wife Angela who helps with the team. Pat Mitchell has bowled professionally and works for Brunswick. He imparted some wisdom to us about how the way lanes are oiled can make a big difference in a team’s performance. This is one reason why some teams can do great at their home lanes and suffer when they travel. He has taught Chelsea and the rest of the Bucs how to “read” and respond to oil patterns. His insight is greatly appreciated.

“We are quite fortunate to have a coach like Pat. We have learned so much,” Chelsea stated. “Without him I don’t think I would be as good as I am today.”

Chelsea is the only member of the Winkelman family who bowls. But her mom assured me that they enjoy watching her compete – even her Grandma and Grandpa Yonkers have been known to show up to root for her. Chelsea does possess another skill set which is easier to track in the family gene pool: she and her mother, Sue, are both singers.

Chelsea sings first soprano and is a section leader in the concert choir at Grand Haven. She has also been recruited to sing in the ten member worship band at her church; Covenant Life in Grand Haven.

One of the things Sue most appreciates about her daughter is the positive energy she brings to “life in general”. Apparently it takes quite a bit to get Chelsea into a down mood. Her mom commended Chelsea for her compassion and the way she is both helpful and inclusive of others in any kind of social setting. Sue illustrated her point by relating how Chelsea was in elementary school with a young man challenged with cerebral palsy. When she would read aloud to him it gave him comfort and calmed him down.

Chelsea labeled herself “a math geek” and related that Algebra II is her favorite class because Mr. Mauro is a “great teacher who explains everything and makes it fun”. As you might expect from such a focused young lady, Chelsea has a plan for life after high school. She will get her core classes done at MCC and then transfer to GVSU to become either a teacher or counselor for elementary students. We can only imagine she will do well in either capacity.
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