None Left Standing

None left standing… that should be the motto of every bowler whether it is on their first or second shot. And of course, that time for at least a brief moment, when you are the best the game has ever seen; when you have thrown back 120 pins on 12 consecutive shots. Yes I’m referring to one of the sport’s “Holy Grails”, the elusive perfect score of 300. Many bowlers never aspire to those ranks and say what you will about the number of perfect games increasing as technology has made its advances in the sport. But, once all else boils away, the facts still remain. A player may get lucky on a couple of shots but, much must be said for the level of skill it takes to accomplish the feat. I can say this with a great deal of confidence there is nothing like the feeling the first time you achieve perfection. With all of that said, there is one feeling, I must confess, is a very close second. And that would be watching someone you have coached for a very long time finally reach that pinnacle. I’ve had that pleasure on several occasions and I’m not sure I can quite describe the euphoria but, allow me to try. In that brief moment when the last pin succumbs and slams to the deck, time seems to slow down. The reaction of the bowler is awesome to see and, for that brief moment, I’m right there at the foul line with them. Then the second wave, suddenly you focus only on that athlete while the commotion ensues around them. Well-wishers, opponents, and those who have gathered to watch are delighted by witnessing the feat. In that moment, only you see the athlete deep inside them. You know the struggles, the hours of work, and the demons which have tormented them. But, what you see is the sum total of all that in this one moment in time where everything seems right and everything has come together to bring that specific athlete to this moment of destiny. As a coach, these are among the best times, when you get to take the back seat and just revel in the moment watching someone you’ve mentored come of age. It’s moments like this that make me realize why I do what I do. Coaching is not about me, it has never been about me and I’ve understood that all along. It’s about giving back to a sport that I love deeply and to simply do what I can to help others enjoy it at whatever level they aspire to. I’ve known this all along but, what I was not prepared for was a whole other level as a coach. I’ve experienced a rare and wonderful feeling that not many have had the opportunity to experience and the funny part is I never saw it coming. This happened to me on exactly October 11, 2014 and here is that story.

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Chris Green – 2nd, Courtney Parenteau – 1st

It was a typical Saturday morning where I found myself in a familiar setting working with some Junior bowlers in our program. The scratch division was on a particular tricky sport condition and they were having issues with consistency. So, as I do most Saturdays after they are finished, I worked with them to help them see what they had been missing. I set up our targeting system on the lanes and reinforced seeing the lane from the foul line to the pins as well as from side to side. Once they had settled in and could hit the targets they began to do much better and their confidence began to return. After an hour or so, I relieved my daughter in the pro-shop so she could make the trek southward to Alley Katz where she and my wife would bowl in a Rhode Island Ladies Classic (RILC) singles tournament. I arrived some time later at around the begging of game 2 of the 5 game block to find my daughter Courtney bowling well and comfortably within contention to make match play. I am usually the tournament director for these events but, due to circumstances on this occasion, was a little late. Luckily, my son in law, Ian was at the ready to fill in for me. Courtney was throwing a Brunswick Vintage LT-48 and had a really good look with it as long as she was mindful of managing her ball speed. We spoke briefly and she mentioned she had made the move from her IQ Tour Fusion to the LT-48 just recently due to lane transition. It was clearly the right move given it kept her on the scoring pace. A quick check of her scores confirmed that for me. Out of the gate game one she put up a 248 where game two was a 208 marking the transition and ball change. Game three she bounced back with a 236 and was well on her way to a solid block and a berth into match play. When it came time for match play, Courtney was savvy enough to realize the lanes she would be competing on were fresh and made a bold and confident move back to her IQ Tour Fusion. That was experience talking right there. A lot of bowlers may not have had the foresight or confidence to make that move; often times that is what costs them in the end. During match play it was clear she was on point and the strongest two throughout match play progressed to the title match. I had set up the video camera for the title match as I always do in anticipation for putting another quality ladies final on youtube for all to enjoy. Courtney faced Chris Green in the final who is a veteran bowler in the area and has a great deal of experience locally and has bowled on the national scene. Most times in the past it would have been a case where Courtney has the least experienced but, that can hardly be said at this point. She has competed collegiately and has 4 years of post-collegiate bowling under her belt. Courtney has been exposed to more than most bowlers are in a lifetime. She has bowled many national high level women’s events including; Queens, Team Trials, and the US Open. Courtney has also bowled regionally against a consistently strong male dominated field in the New England Bowlers Association (NEBA) tournaments. When you look at it from that point of view, she has seen a lot and has fought her way through it. Most people, in our area at least, are shocked when the actually see a female throw the ball as well as she does. Although the novelty and “cuteness” factor has started to wear off a bit. The two of them locked horns in the title match and it turned out to be one for the ages. Through six frames, Courtney was perfect and Chris had left the door open for her. I watched as did the growing collection of spectators as Courtney threw each shot with poise and an unshakable confidence. The first six shots in that match had been executed flawlessly each a mirror of the previous. And the result the same, 10 straight back. Her 4th shot leaked a little wide but, flushed nevertheless. Then shots 7 and 8, same story … flush. Shot 9 was a little bit of a tug but held for yet another. The match was over by the 8th frame but, things had suddenly gotten serious…9 straight strikes without a sign of it stopping. I thought to myself, “The first shot of the 10th is the hardest”. I noticed a slight pause, I assumed Courtney was trying to compose herself. But, as with the previous 9 shots poise and confidence prevailed and she had the front 10. Was it going to happen this time? By now a noticeable crowd had gathered as was evident by the sudden outburst of applause as if they knew the importance of getting by the first shot in the 10th. It was then someone mentioned that a lady had not bowled a perfect game in that house since 1981. I was astonished but my mind could not take that in at the moment. I was focused on how Courtney would react to the situation. The title match and on camera in a singles tournament format added to the pressure. It was without a doubt excruciating to watch as she prepared for the next shot. Everything was as before, just as she had been trained, pre-shot routine intact and focus on only the shot in front of her. Poise and confidence to the line but, it got right off her hand a little faster than the others. “C’mon ball!” I yelled from the back and it responded as if somehow it heard me. I’m sure Courtney was talking to it all the way down the lane as well. It just caught the head pin and sent it to the side wall. The 2 pin was standing late and something tripped it forward, number 11! Applause erupted from the crowd as we all waited in anticipation of the outcome of the last shot. As Courtney waited for the ball to return, I could see the focus. She drew a slow deep breath with along exhale, no doubt trying to calm her nerves. As she set for the final shot I caught myself uttering very quietly, “c’mon kid one time, like you’ve done thousands of times before, just one”. To the line one final time but, again the ball leaked right quickly and I yelled “C’mon ball”, it must have heard me again. It got back to the pocket flat. The 7 and 10 stood defiantly but, two pins from each side wall toppled them too. The crowd erupted and I no doubt screamed the loudest. As for Courtney, she pumped her fists in triumph and probably a little defiant rage. Then the well of emotion gushed and tears were produced abundantly.

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None left standing… Courtney Parenteau’s reaction after the 10 pin is the last to hit the deck!

Chris Green was the first to embrace her no doubt expressing her congratulations. I along with others added our affection and acknowledgement of the moment in time where Courtney was perfect. Her legs must have felt like rubber as shed collapsed onto a nearby chair face in her hands. This had been a long road with many near misses but, the ending could not be more story book like… match play finals for a title, on film, and in a house that had seen a 33 year drought between 300 games thrown by a lady.

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The only two ladies to throw 300 at Alley Katz Bowling Center. Courtney Parenteau (left) – 2014, Linda Chiaradio (right) – 1981

Amidst all the commotion, a few minutes later Linda Chiaradio, the only other lady to throw a 300 in that house, came down to the center just to meet and congratulate Courtney. It was an awesome moment and one I’m sure Courtney will never forget.

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Joey Transue was quick to update the board in the center

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.

Author

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

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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.

Author

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