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.
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.
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.
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.