BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — This past winter, both Niskayuna bowling coaches — Carol Baldwin with the girls, and Laura Favata with the boys — fielded rosters filled with competitors they had recruited and found in area bowling leagues.
“We needed to build,” Favata said. “We’d had so much turnover.”
Both coaches had success finding new bowlers, especially at the younger ranks. For the next few years, numbers for the respective teams look strong, and Baldwin and Favata want to keep that trend going.
To that end, the Niskayuna coaches have teamed up to create the Rock ‘N’ Bowl-A-Thon, a Sept. 27 event for all ages at Schenectady’s Boulevard Bowl. Cost is $20 per person — or $90 for five people, a full lane — for three hours of bowling and shoes. Reservations are suggested, and can be made by contacting Favata at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want to give bowling its day,” Favata said.
WHAT: Rock ‘N’ Bowl-A-Thon; $20 per person for three hours of bowling, shoes
WHERE: Boulevard Bowl, Schenectady
WHEN: Sept. 27, 1 to 4 p.m.
WHY: To raise funds for Niskayuna bowling uniforms and to recruit new players
Funds raised at the event will be used to purchase new uniforms for the 2015-16 squads, but the real reason for the event is to allow young bowlers the chance to meet Niskayuna’s coaches and current athletes.
One of the struggles that school bowling faces, Favata said, is that kids don’t always realize that bowling is an official school sport. Other sports at the high school level have youth programs that feed into them more naturally than the Capital Region’s numerous weekend bowling leagues, so the hope with the Bowl-A-Thon is to remind bowling-inclined kids about the high school option for them when they reach the seventh grade.
“We want to get them in to show them that bowling is fun, but also have our teams there to show to remind them that it’s a school sport, too,” said Favata, whose daughter Julia Favata was the most successful Niskayuna bowler a year ago, advancing to the state championships.
All bowlers who try out for the Niskayuna High School squads make the team and get to participate as exhibition competitors if they do not make the scoring lineup. Fielding as many participants as possible is important to the programs, but so too is compiling a roster of bowlers not all at the novice level. That’s another reason why an event like the Bowl-A-Thon, at which the Niskayuna coaches also plan to talk about youth leagues in the area with interested kids and their parents, is important: to help develop basic skills in bowlers before they get to the high school level.
“It’s tough when they show up in seventh grade and have never really bowled competitively before,” Laura Favata said.
That was the situation for the Niskayuna teams this past season, when both Baldwin and Favata spent lots of time working on skills with their bowlers. If the Sept. 27 event turns some casual young bowlers into ones with a competitive yearning, the event will be a success.
“The only way to get better at bowling is to bowl more,” Favata said. “This is an opportunity for that.”