2014 Junior Gold – Flyers Come Up Big on Day 3

What an exciting third day at Junior Gold and an outstanding showing for not only the RI Flyers but, Rhode Island and Southeastern Mass.! First and foremost I would like to take a moment to acknowledge all of the bowlers from our area who participated in the tournament. Getting here is an accomplishment by itself. Well done everyone!

Jewel Dumond made both cuts and has advanced on to match play in the U15 Girls division. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Jewel and coaching her for several years now. It’s incredible to watch her progress, over the past year or so her ability has really skyrocketed.

Going into the last block of the U20 Boys squad both Tyler Perry and Bryan Bourget needed huge clutch performances to give themselves a chance. The character and resolve in both of these young men shined through yesterday as Tyler went +85 and Bryan +22 to move on to the advancers round. At the time of this writing (7am), they await the start of their block at 8am.

These three juniors who bowled for the Flyers and in Tyler’s case, Southeastern Mass., during the regular season are certainly not strangers to all of us in the Flyers program.

Others known to the program from our area who did well and made their respective cuts are Jadee Scott-Jones and Qwadaris Rembert of Providence Senate.

The format for the Junior Gold tournament is very challenging. Three WTBA Sport compliant patterns of varying length in three different houses across three days with a 1:7 advancement ratio is what makes this so difficult. And for a tournament of this caliber, it should be this difficult. Any junior who qualifies to be here really is among the best our nation has to offer. This year both the U20 Girls and Boys were the largest fields I’ve seen in the many years I’ve attended this tournament and the field was extremely talented as well.

As I mentioned to each of the bowlers the night before the first squad, each bowler has to have a goal for this tournament that stretches them. That goal is different for each bowler and they need to see that goal in front of them taking each day as a new tournament. The format is more of a marathon than a sprint. For those that did not make the cut, success really is what they defined it as. Jess Marcure met with success by improving her performance this year and seeing her spare conversion rate increase. Yousef El-laham put in a +18 block on the last day to recover from an otherwise difficult week. Curran Desjardins turned in two 900+ blocks for the tournament, realizing she was one solid block away from contending for cut. Rebekah Varin turned in her highest block ever with a 914 performance on the second day putting her within striking distance of the cut. Samantha Gitschier improved her performance over last year realizing the progress she has made over the past season. Tori Porter playing through some kind of cold/virus turned in a gutsy performance on the last day of qualifying. These are just some of the examples of the “back story” on the athletes who may not be in the limelight today but, also deserve to be recognized for their hard work and determination.

I’m not sure how the day will end but, this is certainly a tournament for the books and makes a statement that the future of bowling in the remote and often forgotten Northeast corner of the country is alive and well. These young bowlers represent a future force to be reckoned with for sure. Well done everyone!

2014 Junior Gold – Buffalo, NY – Day 2

Day two of Junior Gold is always the day which separates the field. Those who have done well enough over the past two days view day 3 as the block where they can move up high enough to advance. For others it is about bowling for a different reason, to maximize the learning experience and identify those areas of their game that need attention. At the present time Rebekah Varin has an outside chance to make the cut. It appears that the averages are slightly higher than in previous years. Rebekah helped herself today by posting a solid 914 block. Although she is still within striking distance, the 914 total could have easily been much higher leaving her with a more manageable task for day 3. Rebekah will need to be in the vicinity of 1050 tomorrow and may need a little help. After the way she threw the ball today, she may be able to pull a block like that together. Curran Desjardins lead the Flyers scoring pace today with a solid 924. Jewel Dumond continues to do very well in the U15 division. Her performance had her near the top of the pack and is in great shape to make that cut. With respect to the boys today, the pattern beat up most of the competitor thus, not allowing them an opportunity to make up any ground. Although they fought hard, the pattern today proved to be too much for most.

2014 Junior Gold – Buffalo, NY – Day 1

Front Row: Rebekah Varin, Jewel Dumond, Samantha Gitschier, Robert Labossiere, Tiler Levesque, Bryan Bourget, Yousef El-laham, Back Row: Tori Porter, Jessica Marcure, Jeff Marcure, Alex Burbine, Ben Burbine Missing: Curran Desjardins, Tyler Perry, David St. Pierre, Nathan St. Don

Front Row: Rebekah Varin, Jewel Dumond, Samantha Gitschier, Robert Labossiere, Tiler Levesque, Bryan Bourget, Yousef El-laham,
Back Row: Tori Porter, Jessica Marcure, Jeff Marcure, Alex Burbine, Ben Burbine
Missing: Curran Desjardins, Tyler Perry, David St. Pierre, Nathan St. Don

It’s pretty late as I write the first blog post from Buffalo. This is very familiar to me as I sit and consider all that transpired today. After so many years of working with our area’s youth to prepare them for this event and to do what I can to shape their future in the sport, I find that I’m once again exhausted. But, this kind of tired is the good kind. Sometimes as you work alongside the juniors and feel their struggles, a part of you struggles along with them. The exciting part is to be part of watching them grow as athletes and ultimately watching so many of the leave to bowl at high levels in the sport. I especially feel very proud of those who go on to bowl in the collegiate ranks. There’s one thing I know for certain after doing this now for so long and that is there is a huge value to those who go on to bowl in college. Not just from the perspective of their bowling but, the education they receive in the process. But, focusing on just the bowling aspect of this for just one minute, I mean after all this is a bowling blog. It’s very clear to me after watching so many compete at this level that there games are accelerated and they quickly grow beyond what they otherwise would be capable of had they stayed home and joined the rest of the local talent, by some measure, too soon. The evidence I draw on is to watch those who are now beginning to return from college and looking at how far their games have come as a result. So, it is very clear to me that the rigor of the classroom, physical workout schedule, strenuous practice and competitive schedule is what sharpens these athletes’ skills. I really am humbled and feel a sense of satisfaction in their accomplishments for whatever small way I may have helped them along their chosen path. I would not trade it for the world, I take the responsibility each of these athletes and their parents have entrusted in me very seriously and I’m honored to be part of their journey.

Area Juniors Representing the Flyers and Rhode Island

Area Juniors Representing the Flyers and Rhode Island

This year is certainly a new high point for not only the RI Flyers program but for junior bowling in our area. This is certainly the largest number of bowlers from our area to represent our state and is the largest number of bowlers from the RI Flyers league and Summer Sport program to date. That’s just a shout out to all of the players, parents and those involved in the Flyers for their part in making the program a success once again. Special thanks to Ed Ianni for collecting the cash each week and keeping the books straight. To Mike Pastore, general manager at AMF Cranston Lanes for really rolling out the red carpet and going above and beyond to assist the juniors. I can’t forget Courtney Parenteau for her assistance in coaching and putting together the Jr. Gold packets each year, and a thank you to Billy and Nicole Trudell for helping out on Wednesday nights. I get to be the head coach so, my role is very visible but, these are the folks who really make this happen. I know it sounds trite but, it is true. Without these folks volunteering their time, this would not be possible.

Well, the first day is usually a tough day, it’s always marked by significant ups and downs given all the athletes have to adjust to. First off, they are tired both mentally and physically due to getting used to new surroundings and coming off of 2 days of practice and sorting out how to approach each shot used in the tournament. We have a pretty veteran crew here this year so, they knew what to expect for the most part. My job is to keep them as grounded and focused as possible going into the first day. As I mentioned to the athletes last night, try to view this as three separate tournaments and try to reach your goal (whatever that is) on each day. Trying to turn this into a sprint as opposed to a marathon is a bad idea.

Left to Right: REbekah Varin, Tori Porter, Jewel Dumond, Samantha Gitschier, Jessica Marcure Missing: Curran Desjardins

Left to Right: REbekah Varin, Tori Porter, Jewel Dumond, Samantha Gitschier, Jessica Marcure
Missing: Curran Desjardins

On the Girls side, some of them  were on Tokyo today and in a house with pretty worn wooden lanes. The scoring pace was low for those blocks on that pattern. Other blocks were on the medium pattern and some of the athletes we know who bowled on it reported scores which were much higher than Tokyo. So, maybe it’s a good thing we got that one out of the way early. In terms of the Flyers members, Bekah Varin came out the best today although there was certainly some room for improved scores. She did not bowl her way into a hole and with two solid blocks has the opportunity to fight her way back into contention. Bekah had one 200+ game in her block but, was not able to catch traction during the block. That added to some missed spare opportunity kept her score at a modest 851. Other youth from our area did well today. Both Gazmine Mason and Jadee Scott-Jones are positioned well going into day 2. The breakdown on the pattern was tricky since there was a defined out of bounds and the midlane broke down considerably forcing many players well inside which is generally out of their comfort zone. The breakdown played into Gazmine’s “A” game and Jadee is strong enough to generate speed to miss the breakdown in the mids.

Left to Right: Yousef El-laham, Bryan Bourget, Jeff Marcure, Alex Burbine, Ben Burbine

Left to Right: Yousef El-laham, Bryan Bourget, Jeff Marcure, Alex Burbine, Ben Burbine

Most of our boys were on Mexico City today and that also played them tough. Like Rebekah, Bryan Bourget and Yousef El-laham  had modest scores and with two strong blocks could battle their way back into contention for cut. Bryan was plagued with some carry issues late in the block while Yousef got off to a slow start but, ended on a strong note.

All in all I am proud of the way all of the players battled today. They showed a true warrior spirit and I’m looking forward to tomorrow to see what that brings. Tomorrow’s blocks will really tell the story in determining if any of our juniors will be in position to move on.

Jess Marcure and Curran Desjardins To Bowl For Franklin Pierce University

Curran Desjardins and Jess Marcure with their parents

Seated Left: Curran Desjardins, Seated Right: Jess Marcure

The Rhode Island Flyers Elite Junior Program continues to produce players who catch the attention of many collegiate Bowling programs across the country. The Flyers see two more players, in addition to Alex Burbine, head off to make an impact at the Collegiate level. Jess Marcure and Curran Desjardins have signed letters of intent with Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire rounding out a talented roster for the University’s first year program.

Coach Kim Berit
, no stranger to Collegiate Bowling, is at the helm for the Ravens after a successful run as a player at Adelphi University. By all accounts, Coach Berit has signed some very impressive talent and is well positioned to enter next year with a formidable team with some depth as well. The University’s decision to allow Berit to spend the past year recruiting talent for the upcoming season may prove to be a wise model for other programs to consider.

Rebekah Varin

Rebekah Varin

In addition to Marcure and Desjardins fellow RI Flyers teammate Rebekah Varin will be transferring from Monmouth University adding some needed experience to the young lineup. To say that Coach Berit “hit the Trifecta” would be an understatement with the acquisition of these three talented ladies.

Both Marcure and Desjardins spent significant time in the Junior ranks in Southeastern Mass. before finding there way to the RI Flyers. With the reputation of producing many Collegiate caliber players, the Flyers provided the opportunity for growth both players were looking for.

Curran, Rebekah, and Jess at the recent Flyers/FPU signing party

Left to Right: Curran Desjardins, Rebekah Varin, Jess Marcure



Jess Marcure is no stranger to hard work on and off the lanes. She has taken the difficult path academically by taking many honors and Advanced Placement classes. Jess will major in English Education. The last several years have marked a time of continuous explosive growth with respect to Marcure’s physical game. Her work ethic has been outstanding and all of the hard work has begun to pay dividends. Recruited by four programs, Jess settled on Franklin Pierce because it was the right fit academically and athletically. She attributes her passion for Bowling to her older brother Kyle (also a former member of Southeastern Mass. and an RI Flyers standout). His example is what sparked Jess to pursue her game as well.

Curran Desjardins is certainly the newest member of the RI Flyers now in her second summer season 20140525_181212with the organization. But, she has been faithful to her commitment making the 35 mile trek from home to AMF Cranston Lanes each week to hone her skills. Curran will be majoring in Health Studies at Franklin Pierce where she will be applying her never quit attitude both on and off the lanes.

Marcure and Desjardins will join myriad current and former members of the Flyers to enter the collegiate ranks. Many Rhode Island Junior Bowlers and some from nearby Massachusetts who have entered the collegiate ranks have been active members of the Flyers organization, enjoying the benefits of the rigorous program that develops a player’s physical and mental aspects of the game.

Coach Fran with Jess, Rebekah and Curran

Left to right: Jess Marcure, Coach Fran Varin, Rebekah Varin, Curran Desjardins

Jess and Curran the Flyers’ coaching staff is very proud of your accomplishment and your example to all of the bowlers in the program and to those that read this article.


Fran Varin is a USBC Silver certified coach who coaches throughout Rhode Island. He is also a coach for the Rhode Island Flyers and Bryant University. He can be reached at fvarin@verizon.net



A Stroll Down The Lane – Lane Oil


PBA dyed lane oil illustrates the pattern and how it breaks down


In my first discussion regarding the playing surface, we took a look at the topology of the lane surface itself. Next, we’ll take a look at the infamous “oil”.

Bowling, like many other sports, has gone through and may still be in the throws of a technological revolution. The science involved in designing modern bowling balls is staggering and the “missiles” we use to blow out a rack of pins is light years away from the spheres we used to throw when I was a boy. Increases in strength and aggressive high friction cover stocks have brought about a situation where the dressing (oil) applied to the lane surface had to evolve as well.

But, first let’s take a step back and ask why this oil is applied to the surface to begin with. Well, back in the day it was discovered that the wood, especially in the front part of the lane, was taking a beating from bowling balls constantly pounding the surface. So, to try and combat the wear and tear on the lane, a coat of oil was sprayed on part of the lane as a protective barrier. Over time, savvy players discovered they could use this to their advantage. So, the application of oil as a lane dressing became an integral part of the game.  

Fast forward to modern times, automated lane maintenance machines have advanced to a point where exact volumes of oil on various parts of the lane can be applied with pinpoint accuracy. Buffing in forward and backward directions can also impact ball reaction. And yes, the way in which the oil is applied can drastically affect the scoring pace by either raising or lowering the scores.

The problem is that no one can actually see the oil and therefore every bowling lane looks identical. Typical “house shots” have become increasingly soft over the years and when coupled with the changes in ball technology has contributed to record honor scores as compared to the much more challenging Sport patterns.

But, as if that were not enough, the oil itself is basically derived from a Mineral oil base sometimes including additives to either increase or decrease friction. The oil has a property known as viscosity, just like the oil you put in your car. Viscosity is essentially a measure of the oil’s resistance to flow. Low viscosity oil would be very runny oil and thus migrate more readily about the lane’s surface. This would be in contrast to high viscosity oil which would resist movement across the surface. Now, let’s factor in the weather conditions in and around a typical bowling center. Such things as humidity and temperature play a factor in how the oil performs on a specific lane and can influence the Oil’s viscosity. So, have you every wondered why in some houses lanes play tighter in the winter or seem to dry out quickly in the summer? These factors are at work in such a case.

Let’s now add in the notion of lane topography into the mix. From our earlier example, what would be the outcome if I used the same oil pattern and lane maintenance machine in the two hypothetical centers but, used different viscosity oil in each center? If you said the shot would likely play and breakdown differently, you would be correct!

Are you beginning to see why a shot, even in the same house, from week to week can change? If not, add in the weather as a factor from week to week and you can begin to see that the center is really not messing with you. Rather, you are falling victim to these variables at work.

So, the next time you hear someone complaining that there is “too much or too little oil this week”, you can chuckle to yourself because you now have an understanding of these principles and can begin to work them into your game.


Fran Varin is a USBC Silver certified coach who coaches throughout Rhode Island. He is also a coach for the Rhode Island Flyers and Bryant University. He can be reached at fvarin@verizon.net  

A Stroll Down The Lane – Lane Topography

I’m going to spend some time discussing the characteristics of our playing surface, i.e. the lane and its preparation. So, let’s sit back and take a stroll down the lane.

Here in New England we’re used to extremes in weather. Summers can be hot and humid and winters, well just plain frigid. All of these changes in weather take a toll on our roads. In fact, jokes about the condition of our roads are almost legendary. It’s not hard to understand why. Asphalt is used to coat the road surface mostly because it is the least expensive covering and can be applied and repaired fairly quickly. But, that surface simply does not hold up. Frost heaves and pot holes develop over time because of the constant stress on the material caused by the changes in weather. In the summer the surface is soft and the weight of cars and trucks also wear grooves into the surface simply from the constant weight of vehicles rolling along the highway. In short the surface is never really flat for long. In the case of pot holes, work crews apply cold patch to cover the holes but, that patch never matches the original surface. So, we end up with a very bumpy and uneven surface. We often have to dodge holes and cracks in the road for fear of damaging our cars.

So, by now you’re probably wondering where I’m heading with all of this. Well, the lane surface is not that far removed from the above example. New synthetic lane surfaces have a friction rating from the manufacturer and are relatively flat when applied. Over time however the constant pounding of bowling balls hitting the lane and them rolling on the same area of the lane surface, they don’t stay flat for long. What makes this worse is that of course over time no two lanes in any center have the same inconsistencies in their surface. The industry refers to this phenomenon as “lane topography”.


The inconsistencies in the lane surface which develop over time from games played on the lanes, lane beds settling, weather etc. all play a factor in the topography of the lanes within every house. Of course this is a factor to consider when playing in a particular house and is one reason why any specific pattern may play different from house to house. Yes, there are other variables that will make patterns play differently. But, let’s assume that I had the very same lane maintenance machine, the same lane oil and the same manufacturer’s synthetic surface in two houses. When I apply any pattern to the surfaces in these two houses in our hypothetical example, the pattern would still play and breakdown differently due to the only variable left, lane topography.



This is a phenomenon that cannot be seen. It can be measured and charted and in fact the USBC has done exactly that. Lane topography is real and it also plays a significant role in our game. Unfortunately many bowlers do not even know it exists. If you were one of those bowlers, you now know about it and can now begin to realize why certain houses may be tougher than others. And you understand at least one reason why the same pattern can play very differently house to house. If you would like to learn more check out this link: http://www.kegel.net/V3/ArticleDetails.aspx?ID=75


Fran Varin is a USBC Silver certified coach who coaches throughout Rhode Island. He is also a coach for the Rhode Island Flyers and Bryant University. He can be reached at fvarin@verizon.net