Jessica Aiezza, already one of the greatest bowlers in Capital Region history, continues to squeeze more pin achievement awards into her trophy case every season. But the recent inductee into the Mechanicville High School Athletic Hall of Fame is more proud of her decision to finally address a lifelong health concern. If you haven’t seen the former Jessica DeCrescente in a while, you might not recognize her.
Both Jessica, and her husband Lee, underwent bariatric surgery this summer, and they’ve combined to lose more than 100 pounds so far. While Lee Aiezza’s surgery went smoothly, Jessica endured some bumps in the road. In fact, she had to have a corrective procedure done four times.
“I did the surgery for the right reasons,” Aiezza said. “It’s not the easy way out, as some people might believe. I have bounced back and forth with my weight all of my life. I was 170 pounds in seventh grade, and I went to a nutritionist for help. This has been a problem for me for a very long time.”
The lefty with the smooth release on the lanes explained why she finally decided to go in for surgery. “Last September, Lee went away on a golfing trip. I was home alone. After bowling that night, I reached for the telephone, and my left arm started hurting severely. I tried to shake it out, but the pain only got worse. I started feeling nauseous, and my chest began pounding. I thought I was having a heart attack,” she said.
Aiezza, a former PA (physician’s assistant), called her brother, who took her to an urgent care center. By the time they arrived, she lost all feeling in her left hand, and her blood pressure was extremely elevated. “They had to rule out a stroke or a heart attack, and they finally determined it was an anxiety attack,” Aiezza said. “But it was a wakeup call for me. Lee [also a standout bowler] and I decided that we both wanted to have the surgery — not only to lose weight, but to make sure we are around for our two children.”
Aiezza said that her husband did the initial research on the surgery. “He doesn’t regret it one bit,” she said. “But one month ago, when I had my fourth endoscopy done to reopen the hole which had closed to my stomach, I might have regretted having it done. “Now, I’m very happy I did it. Like I said, we’ve got two young kids. It’s still difficult, because eating is such a big part of life. Everything social seems to have food involved with it, but we’ve learned to substitute activity instead, whenever we can. We are still battling the mental part, but it’s worth it.”
Aiezza initially discovered that the extreme weight loss altered her bowling release. “My arm swing was out of whack, but with all the yo-yo dieting I’ve done in the past, I knew what to look for and how to adjust,” she said. “She recently tossed a pair of 279 games in her last league night and is starting to feel like her old self. “So far, the weight loss doesn’t seem to affect my game that much,” she said.
Aiezza’s bowling resume is one of the best around. At Mechanicville, she bowled varsity from seventh grade though 12th. The five-time team captain was the Colonial Council MVP twice, earned a spot on the Section II Class C/D championship team several times and was on the overall Section II state championship team as a junior and a senior. She also was the school’s Valedictorian when she graduated with a 97.5 GPA in 1998.
As a member of the powerhouse Morehead State University team, Aiezza helped win a national title in both 2000 and 2002. She was the BPAA Female Collegiate Bowler of the Year in 2000 and an All-American twice.
Owner of 42 perfect games, including back-to-back 300s on Feb. 20, 2017, Aiezza also has thrown 26 800 triples. She held the nation’s highest average for a female bowler in both 2006-07 (237.56) and 2011-12 (241.98). In 2015, Aiezza placed first in the team event, first in doubles and first in singles at the New York State USBC Women’s Bowling Association Tournament, setting a national record with an all-events mark of 2,388.
She also has numerous Empire State Games bowling medals, including five gold medals. Aiezza won the 2010 Huck Finn Capital Region Bowling Show Super Bowl Doubles in 2010.
Last weekend, she was inducted into the Mechanicville High School Athletic Hall of Fame. “I’m thrilled to be inducted in only the second year that they’ve had a hall of fame,” she said. “To be brought up for consideration is huge. Mechanicville has many great athletes at that school.”
Schenectady USBC Bowling Association president Bill Nolan said the new merger is now official and recognized by the USBC. The new association number is 86607. All money from the three merged associations — men’s, women’s and junior’s — is now combined into one account, and association manager Lloyd Denny has downloaded most of the association’s data into one computer. League certifications are being processed.
Nolan said the association’s junior tournaments will be held Dec. 3 (singles at Boulevard Bowl at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.) and Jan. 14 (team also at Boulevard Bowl at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.). The next board meeting will be Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl.
STRIKES & SPARES
Area standout Mike Miseno is the new bowling coach for Amsterdam High School.
Chris Barnes, an 18-time winner on the PBA Tour, two-time PBA50 Player of the Year Ron Mohr and famed proprietor Don Mitchell have been elected into the PBA Hall of Fame.
The first Double “J” scratch tournament will be held Oct. 22 at Towne Bowling Academy. There will be one squad of 60 bowlers, with two divisions: senior and non-senior. Top prize will be $1,000, based on the full field. Entry fee is $80.