When it comes to the word “sport,” many people envision empty water bottles, the stench of sweat and the sound of players gasping for air. Dirty socks, smelly cleats and stained uniforms make up the typical WHS athlete’s apparel. For most WHS athletes, wearing clean shoes, fancy polo shirts and khaki shorts during a game would be peculiar. But, when it comes to the WHS bowling team, that’s exactly what you will see.
Last Saturday at 9 a.m., Jersey Lanes in Linden filled every lane with 37 teams, screaming fans and nervous players. Parents, grandparents and siblings gathered around the lanes in portable lawn chairs, dining on Dunkin’ Donuts and coffee as they anxiously awaited the start. Before the match began, Beyonce’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played throughout the alley and ended with players screaming and clapping.
Players unpacked their bowling balls and practiced for 10 minutes before the match began. The three games in the tournament consisted of five uniformed players per team, and they could be subbed at any time during the match.
Senior Captain Tavis Brunson led Westfield with 541 points and Westfield ended the tournament with 2,281 points, finishing 23rd out of the 28 co-ed teams competing. Co-ed teams are commonplace at the high school level; 2 of the 16 current Blue Devil bowlers are girls.
Even though the Blue Devils did not place in the tournament, it was the first time playing in a high school match for many of them, said Brunson.
“It was a little nerve-wracking for them, but overall I was pleased with our performance,” Brunson said. “I know we will do better as the season progresses.”
Brunson found his hidden talent when he was convinced to join the bowling team by his friend during his freshman year. Brunson said that before high school he couldn’t score higher than 100 in a game but now his personal best is 270, which he set last Tuesday.
While it’s an individual sport, all 16 players rely on each other to contribute to the overall team score, according to Brunson.
Senior Eric Varakian added: “The bowling team is like a family. Other sports can be competitive with their teammates, but we all cheer for each other.”
The WHS bowling team will be competing again tomorrow morning against Carteret in North Brunswick.