Always on ‘Strike’

Bowling looks forward to 2020 season

Freshman+Lucia+Conrad+bowls+during+her+match.+The+Vikes+took+on+Perry+Dec.+13.

Mary Basiakos

Freshman Lucia Conrad bowls during her match. The Vikes took on Perry Dec. 13.

Drew Stangelo, Sports Editor

The bowling season is in full swing, with both the girls and boys teams already logging several matches. The teams are looking to build upon past success while also replacing many seniors. Bowling is one of Hoover’s hidden gems.
The teams have had a lot of success in previous seasons and are looking to build on it. Senior Sefra Protch has been lucky enough to enjoy the team’s achievements.
“For the last three years we’ve been going to states, and [this year] we have multiple new people that are [gaining many] good skills,” she said.
Although young and lacking experience, both teams are looking to continue the recent success of the program. Coach Jeff Sabella is looking for growth and maturity from his budding squads.
“Both teams are extremely young and inexperienced,” he said. “[Our] expectations are to learn and gain experience over the next season or two before we return to higher expectations.”
The girls bowling team has been a force in the Federal League and has been extremely successful in the state competition. Sabella is very proud of what the girls team has accomplished in past years.
“The girls team over the past five years has won the Federal Conference and Federal League once, won sectionals [and] districts and have gone to states the previous two years, finishing 8th two years ago and 4th in the state last season,” Sabella said. “They were one baker match away from bowling for the state championship. Doesn’t get much better than that.”
Although the girls team has lost some key players, Protch says she is not worried about a potential dip in performance this year and the years to come.
“We lost [a lot of] the girls who led us to states, but we got new girls to come in, and we’re teaching them new things,” Protch said. “I’m hoping the next couple of years will go well.”
Sabella is confident that the new bowlers will be able to gain meaningful match experience and set the team up for success for years to come.
“The girls team has three seniors who are experienced bowlers, but after that we have two beginning bowlers who have never competed before,” Sabella said. “We are definitely in need of some [female] athletes who either have bowling experience or want to learn how to bowl.”
As for the boys team, Sabella said they will need to gain experience before becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Federal League.
“We have two returning bowlers on [the boys] varsity, and the rest of the team are new additions,” Sabella said. “They are going to need a season or two to gain enough experience and knowledge to be successful.”
Bowling has been gaining traction as a more popular sport, especially at the collegiate level. Athletic Director Tim Walker sees the great opportunity bowling is providing for young men and women.
“It would be called an emerging sport at most college venues and even at the high school level,” Walker said. “It’s really gaining attraction.”
In fact, the Hoover bowling program has sent multiple bowlers onto the collegiate level. Walker has been fortunate to see many athletes from Hoover go onto college and bowl.
“Anytime you have an opportunity to pay for college and find a way to do something like that, it’s a positive,” Walker said. “Natalie Sommers, who’s bowling at Walsh, is doing a great job and enjoying college.”
Just like any other sport, bowling requires hard work and practice. However, it is sometimes overlooked from a skill standpoint.
“Like a lot of sports, it isn’t about doing it one time, it’s about the consistency with which our student-athletes perform,” Walker said. “They have it down to a science, and they work hard at perfecting their craft.”
Protch said bowling can be something that sticks with you for the rest of your life. She thinks it is a fun and memorable experience in general.
“It’s a fun thing you can do, [and] it’s something you can do when you’re 60 or any age for that matter,” Protch said. “It’s just fun.”