In the Pocket: Dennis’ coaching methods still effective

Mighty Warriors headed to state tournament
Mohonasen bowling coach John Dennis
Mohonasen bowling coach John Dennis

Mohonasen High School girls’ bowling coach John Dennis takes a simple but effective approach to guiding the highly successful Mighty Warriors on the lanes.

“I just try to make them consistent. If they become consistent with their games, they can make the correct adjustments with my help. They also have to make spares. That’s kind of what high school coaches are expected to teach their athletes at this level,” the 70-year-old Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons graduate said.

“In bowling, we have the USBC junior programs as our feeder system in high school. It’s sort of like the feeder systems you have in softball. If they have good form, you can get them to do anything. I let them decide on their own bowling equipment. Everyone has their favorite pro shop and their favorite brand of bowling ball. I don’t interfere with that. Their pro shop guy knows their game and how to drill their equipment to suit them. When they get to college, that’s something their college coach might decide on.”

Dennis has coached the Mohonasen girls’ team for 25 years, and this year, as Section II Class A and large-school champions, the Mighty Warriors are making their eighth appearance at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Bowling Championships March 10-11 at the Oncenter in Syracuse. Dennis also volunteers his time helping run the Section II Championships at Boulevard Bowl every year and is usually the coach of the Section II all-star or “section” team that also competes at the state event. This year, because he’s already coaching the “school” representative, he will also serve as the assistant coach for the section team.

“I enjoy bonding with the girls and watching them have so much fun,” Dennis said. “Going from seventh grade to 12th grade and watching them mature so much is very rewarding. Along with my wife, Linda, the girls on the team have become part of our family from November to March.”
Dennis, who worked for 37 years as a welder at General Electric, was originally more known for coaching softball in the Fort Hunter Rotterdam girls’ softball league. 

“I coached my daughters in softball, and they event­ually wanted to try bowling,” Dennis said. “Matt George was the girls’ bowling coach at the time. He started the program, and when he left, I inquired if I could take over.”

The rest is a bit of Mohonasen athletic history for one of the truly nice guys in the sport.


Schenectady USBC association representatives will be available all next week at Sportsman’s Bowl, Towne Bowling Academy and Boulevard Bowl to hand out entry forms and answer any questions about the upcoming Schenectady USBC Open Championship and Schenectady USBC Women’s Championship Singles Tournament.

Kylie Largeteau, who averages 175, shot games of 266, 223 and 225 for her first 700 triple (714) in the Saturday Junior Majors at Towne Bowling Academy.

The 23rd annual Blizzard Bowl, to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Schenectady, will be held from March 18 through April 23 at Boul­evard Bowl. The tournament will be in memory of Frank DePalma Sr. and Jack Scaccia Sr. Entry fee is $80 per team. First place will be $2,000, based on 160 entries. Singles and doubles brackets also will be available. Squad times are March 18, March 25, April 8 and April 15 at 11:45 a.m., as well as April 23 at 7 p.m. A continental breakfast will be served a half-hour before bowling on each squad.

Gene Speenburgh won his fourth New Era Senior Tour title at Uncle Sam Lanes last weekend and picked up a check for $450. Ken Merchant ($250) was second, while Sam Ventura ($190) and Mark Rathbun ($190) were third and fourth, respectively. The next NEST event will be the Century Doubles at Hometown Lanes March 17 at noon.

Imperial Lanes will host the next Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour tournament Saturday at 1 p.m.

Jacob Rivers won the Lansingburgh Bowling Booster Scratch Singles at Alpha Lanes last Saturday. Pete Dougherty of Clifton Park was second.

The team of Chris Hanson, Natasha Bidwell, Matt Fazzone, David Sader and Tammy Sader won the inaugural Boulevard Bowl 5-Man Baker tournament last weekend.

The Schenectady County Community College men’s and women’s teams are competing in the NJCAA National Championships in Buffalo this weekend.

Towne Bowling Academy will host a mixed doubles tournament March 18, with squads at both 9:30 a.m. and noon. Qualifying will be four games, with finals to follow. Top prize will be $1,500. Handicap is 80 percent of the difference between the team’s average and 460 with a maximum of 80 pins per game.

The first qualifier for the 16th annual Joe & Tom Donato Scratch Singles tournament, presented by Alpine Flooring, will be March 11 at noon at Uncle Sam Lanes. Qualifiers continue throughout the region until the finals are held  April 8 at Towne Bowling Academy. For reservations, contact Tommy Donato at 518-788-0771.

The next Amateur League Bowlers Association of New York event for league bowlers averaging less than 215 will be March 25 at Uncle Sam Lanes at 9:30 a.m.. Handicap will be 100 percent of a 215 average, with a maximum of 75 pins per game. Entry fee is $45, or $30 if paid before March 19. First place will be $500, baed on 60 entries.  Call 518-209-4748 for more information.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.

Categories: Sports

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