Focused on taking her bowling game to the next level, Lauren May Piotrowski doesn’t have time to dwell on past accomplishments.
The Schenectady High School graduate and current freshman at Schenectady County Community College recently earned a United States Bowling Congress award for achieving the highest average in the nation (221) for a female junior bowler during the 2015-2016 season.
Piotrowski recorded the top USBC female junior average in the Saturday afternoon program at Boulevard Bowl.
But although that honor looks great on her resume, Piotrowski knows that collegiate bowling is a completely different challenge. During the last week or so, she has received plenty of attention on social media praising her for the outstanding achievement. It’s time to move on and work harder to reach her goals.
“I didn’t know anything about the award until just before I received it,” Piotrowski said. “I was at Boulevard Bowl practicing a little more than a week ago when Blasé Lawyer asked me if I got anything yet from the USBC. When I said I hadn’t, he said he might as well tell me what he had heard. The next day, I got the notice about the award. I was really surprised.”
Piotrowski said that he had a good idea her average during the Boulevard junior program was extremely competitive last year, but she tried not to let it impact her enjoyment. “I always thought my average was kind of high at the time. My dad kept pushing me not to let up. The biggest thing for me was that I wanted to have fun. I was trying not to focus on my score,” she said.
Piotrowski learned the game from her father, Mike, and received more instruction from Boulevard junior bowling coordinator Sharon Sager. “Sharon Sager was a big part of helping me to learn all the fundamentals since I was 4 or 5 years old,” Piotrowski said. “Then I got more help from my coach at Schenectady High, Karen Daffner.”
Now, Piotrowski is working even harder on her game, because conditions and oil patterns at the collegiate level are twice as difficult as the house shots she used to bowl on as a junior and a scholastic competitor.
“My college coach, Ray Ross, is somebody I’ve known since I was 9 years old, and he started helping me when I first met him,” she said. “He’s always been behind me and has encouraged me. For a while, I thought I really wanted to go to a four-year school, just like [former Nebraska All-American] Liz Kuhlkin. But I’ve also known a ton of kids who went to SCCC first, like Zach Doty, and then transferred to a Division I program later. Coach Ross cares a lot about his athletes doing well, not only on the lanes but in the classroom. Being close to home and saving some money are also some reasons I decided to attend SCCC.”
The accounting major enjoys pushing herself at the next level of competition, but she admits that she was a little unsure of herself.
“It’s scary bowling in these big tournaments,” she said. “You have to be close to perfect in order to be successful. That’s super hard to do. But I’m learning new things every day here at SCCC. We bowl against bigger Tier 1 community college teams, and we also compete against some Division I teams in the bigger tournaments. It’s awesome to bowl in some of the bigger environments.”
Piotrowski’s biggest tip for young bowlers hoping to compete at the highest levels is to challenge themselves.
“If you really want to get good at this game, you’ve got to push yourself,” she said. “I would tell young bowlers to try the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour, which puts down some really tough patterns. In my first CDYST event, I was probably in last place, and it was horrible, but now I’m doing better and starting to earn some scholarship money. You must bowl poorly in order to bowl good later on. You have to bowl on the sports patterns to really understand the game.”
Piotrowski, who prefers a down-and-in classic style on the lanes, also pointed out that making spares on the tougher oil patterns is a must. “It’s one thing to strike a lot. We all want that. But spares are even better when the going gets tough,” she said. “When you are in the bigger tournaments, you have to make all of your spares to keep your game going.”
Finally, Piotrowski suggests to up-and-coming bowlers that they spend as much time as possible on the lanes. “I practice Wednesdays and Fridays and bowl maybe five or six games of practice,” she said. ‘But I normally bowl at least five days of week when you include tournaments. In the big tournaments, you might have six games of qualifying on a Saturday and then 30 games of Baker style bowling on Sundays. Sometimes, my wrist starts to hurt, and my fingers rip open. Sometimes, my legs hurt. I can get drained both physically and mentally. But that’s what you need to do in order to get better.”
STRIKES & SPARES
The New Era Senior Tournament’s “Digger’s Doubles” will be held Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy. Sponsored by Gardner Excavating, the format will be one over-50 competitor paired with one under-50 competitor. Teams will bowl four games of qualifying, with the top eight teams advancing to one-game match play. Entry fee is $130 per team. First place is $1,700, based on 39 entries. Reservations are required. Call 209-4748 to secure your spot.
SPOILER ALERT: In the finals of last weekend’s Huck Finn’s “Capital Region Bowling Show tournament at Sportsman’s Bowl, Matt Sherman rolled a 300 game in the TV finals. On this week’s show on MY4 TV at 10 a.m. Sunday, the finals of the scratch doubles event will be shown. Sherman’s scratch singles performance will air in a couple of weeks.
Haley Youker of Minoa defeated Billy McGaffin of Amsterdam 171-160 to win the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour event last weekend at Imperial Lanes. Youker and McGaffin each earned $250 scholarships.
Schenectady High School senior Christian Charito rolled his first 800 triple (816) Saturday in the Sportsman’s Bowl junior program.
Jamie Diamond’s 1,081 four-game series last week was his 85th 1,000 series in the Vitalo Open Classic league and included an all-time league record 30th first-three 800 triple of 857. A solid 10-pin in each game prevented a back-end perfect 900 triple.
A 14-week doubles league at Rolling Greens Lanes begins Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. Interested bowlers should contact Mike at 533-8795.
There are still a few squads available for the seventh annual Handicap Team Tournament at Towne Bowling Academy. First place is $4,000. Call 355-3939 for reservations.