One of the Capital Region’s best bowlers over the last two decades was finally snapping out of a prolonged slump when the Grinch visited her on Christmas Day, suddenly quashing her dreams and putting her resurgence on hold.
Jessica Aiezza, the 38-year-old Mechanicville native with a bowling resume larger than Santa’s bag of presents, has been on fire lately. Last week, she rolled her 44th career perfect game en route to a 1,013 four-game series in the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial Mixed Doubles league.
But one day after I interviewed her for this piece, she fell off her son’s new Hoverboard and tore ligaments in her right elbow on Christmas Day. Although she’s a lefty, the injury will keep her off the lanes for six weeks, and she will most likely have reduced range of motion in the right arm.
Just prior to the injury, Aiezza’s game was rounding back into shape in more ways than one. She was finally feeling comfortable after losing 120 pounds from bariatric surgery. Her timing and swing were in sync, and she was getting great results from her new Hammer equipment. Aiezza has been a member of the Hammer equipment staff since last spring.
“I think I had a delayed response from my weight loss, and that, combined with some changes in my ball pitches, seemed to slow me down for a long time,” Aiezza said. “I was trying to figure out what was going on. My finger holes were cutting into my fingers, and I had to change my pitches. I went without grips for a while. I think it took four to six weeks to get my equipment feeling comfortable again.”
But equipment changes were only half the story.
“My arm swing was kind of out of whack,” she said. “My timing was off, and I had to go back to basics.”
Aiezza lost more than 100 pounds because of health reasons. Both she and her husband, Lee, had the surgery more than a year ago. But the extreme changes in her body also affected her bowling game.
“Honestly, I feel the same when I bowl, but my hips aren’t there any more. Subconsciously, I was still trying to get around my hips with my arm swing. Between that and losing all that weight, I hadn’t been able to exercise until recently. My legs felt weaker, but I’ve been working out at the gym building strength. I needed my legs and my hips under me,” she explained.
Hopefully, Aiezza’s recent hot streak will continue after the latest injury heals. She’s bowling well in both the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial Mixed Doubles and the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial City League at Towne Bowling Academy.
“I’m having fun and bowling great on both Monday and Wednesday nights,” she said. “It’s been enjoyable, but until recently, it was getting frustrating not bowling as well as I used to, especially with all those great bowlers in those leagues. I’m finding that the Hammer equipment I’m using rolls better for me. Instead of leaving 7-pins, I’m leaving 8s and 9s, and they are a lot easier to make for me. I was having a lot of over/under situations on the lanes with the Storm equipment I used to use. I’m not preaching, because everyone has to use what is best for them. But for me, the Hammer equipment matches up the best.”
Aiezza’s bowling has been overshadowed by her talented leaguemates at Towne, but don’t forget what she’s accomplished. The former physician’s assistant was inducted into the Mechanicville High School Athletic Hall of Fame last year. She was a five-time team captain and two-time Colonial Council MVP for the Red Raiders. She competed on the Section II state championship team as a junior and a senior, and she was the Mechanicville Valedictorian when she graduated with a 97.5 grade-point average in 1998.
Aiezza kept rolling at a high standard in college, as well. She helped Morehead State University win national championships in both 2000 and 2002 and was the BPAA Female Collegiate Bowler of the Year in 2000. She was also a two-time All-American.
Aiezza currently has 27 800 triples and owned the nation’s highest average in both 2006-07 (237.56) and 2011-12 (241.98). In 2015, she 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.
The mother of two earned numerous Empire State Games bowling medals, including five golds, and captured the 2010 Huck Finn Capital Region Bowling Show Super Bowl Doubles title in 2010.
“My favorite accomplishments so far are winning those two national championships at Morehead State and also capturing the two national high average titles,” she said.
“I plan to compete in more tournaments. I’ve won NYS team tournament titles with different girls, and that was a lot of fun. This year, I plan on bowling with Liz Kuhlkin.”
STRIKES & SPARES
Pins were flying in the City Glass league recently. Chris Hyam rolled his first 300 game as part of a 710 triple, and then in the following week, Mike Hayden registered his first 300 game as part of a 706 triple.
The New Year’s Day Tournament at Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center in South Glens Falls starts at 11 a.m. Entry fee is $125, and top prize is $3,000 guaranteed. Craig Schoonmaker is the defending champion. Call 518-793-9606 for more information.
Town N Country is hosting a Five Man Bakers Tournament Jan. 6. Handicap will be 80 percent of 240, and there will be 12 games of qualifying, with the top six teams advancing to match play. Entry fee is $150 per team.
The next Amateur League Bowlers Association of New York event will be a singles tournament Jan. 13 at Town N Country Lanes. Only bowlers with averages less than 215 are eligible.
Towne Bowling Academy’s ninth annual Handicap Team Tournament continues Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. First place is $4,000, and there is also a singles division with a top prize of $450. Handicaps are 90 percent of 225, with a maximum of 50 pins per person per game. Entry fee is $160 per team. The tournament continues through Jan. 27. There is an optional singles event for an extra $15. Call Towne Bowling Academy at 518-355-3939 for more information.
The Uncle Sam Lanes Christmas Tournament, for three-person teams, continues Saturday (2 p.m.), Dec. 31 (2 p.m. and 5 p.m.), Jan. 5 (2 p.m.) and Jan. 6 (1:30 p.m.). Entry fee is $30 per bowler, with a top prize of $1,200 guaranteed. One in eight teams will cash. Handicap is 90 percent of 220. Call 518-227-9728 for more information.
John Askew connected for a 1,027 four-game series, and Liz Kuhlkin shot a 959 to pace the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial Mixed Doubles league as the second half of the season beganWednesday night at Towne Bowling Academy.
The Reis Group Kim Brown City League, Sportsman’s Majors and Frank DePalma Boulevard Classic were off for the holidays.
REIS GROUP KIM BROWN MEMORIAL MIXED DOUBLES
Capital District Mobil Vet 19-1, Pete’s Auto 18-2, Towne Bowling Academy 17-3, Strike & Spare Pro Shop 17-3, Action Bowling Supply 16-4, GPS Transport 14-6, Bellevue Builder 14-6, MAC Tools 14-6, A Plus Heating & Cooling 14-6, Sindoni Sausage 13-7, Home Town Pub 7-13, Marcella’s Appliance 6-14, Battenkill Motor 6-14, A Touch of Country Florist 6-14, Fifteen Church 6-14, DeCrescente Dist. 4-16, Next Level Detailing 3-17, DeNooyer 3-17, Debra Lamay Agency 2-18, Limitless Plumbing 1-19.
Towne Bowling Academy (17)
Debbie Capullo 225-226-258-236 — 945, Ryan Gahan 269-184-231-216 — 900. Totals: 494-410-489-452 — 1,852.
Next Level Detailing (3)
Erica Poje 194-169-205-201 — 769, Zack Porter 204-243-216-201 — 864. Totals: 398-412-421-402 — 1,633.
Capital District Mobile Vet (19)
Chris Allen-Valenzuela 190-244-242-248 — 924, John Askew 278-259-257-233 — 1,027. Totals: 458-503-499-481 — 1,951.
Limitless Plumbing (1)
Lindsey McPhail 150-188-192-183 — 713, Lee Quivey 184-266-180-203 — 833. Totals: 334-454-372-386 — 1,546
Pete’s Auto (18)
Jenn Schissler 214-194-226-222 — 856, Chuckie Schissler 219-202-180-214 — 815. Totals: 433-396-406-436 — 1,671.
Debra Lamay Agency (2)
Amber Dominic 177-194-205-205 — 781, Brandon Wolf 231-180-204-182 — 797. Totals: 408-374-409-387 — 1,578.
A Touch of Country Florist (6)
Janelle Irwin 213-189-246-226 — 874, Steve Irwin 194-172-214-174 — 834. Totals: 407-361-460-400 — 1,628.
MAC Tools (14)
Kylie Pasquerella 216-168-205-170 — 759, Keith Diamante 255-194-259-207 — 915. Totals: 471-362-464-377 — 1,674.
Fifteen Church (6)
Aliyah Liberatore 202-167-196-192 — 757, Ben Empie 202-144-158-181 — 685. Totals: 404-311-354-373 — 1,442.
GPS Transport (14)
Kim Swiatocha 149-194-234-216 — 793, Matt Swiatocha 173-279-178-226 — 856. Totals: 322-473-412-442 — 1,649.
Battenkill Motor (6)
Laura Rotter 185-168-178-238 — 769, Dan Rotter 214-180-219-239 — 852. Totals: 399-348-397-477 — 1,621.
Bellevue Builder (14)
Ursula Pasquerella 259-216-201-223 — 899, Bill Nolan 180-203-214-205 — 802. Totals: 439-419-415-428 — 1,701
Sindoni Sausage (13)
Liz Kuhlkin 258-252-237-212 — 959, Dave Samborin 256-237-235-173 — 901. Totals: 514-489-472-385 — 1,860.
Hometown Pub (7)
Nicole D’Amario 208-146-172-202 — 728, Tom Rogers 256-243-191-236 — 926. Totals: 464-389-363-438 — 1,654.
DeCrescente Dist. (4)
Amy Janetsky 174-172-210-167 — 723, Scott Rogers 226-266-217-227 — 936. Totals: 400-438-427-394 — 1,659.
Action Bowling Supply (16)
Jordan Byrnes 226-226-211-207 — 870, Kenny Livengood 235-198-258-232 — 923. Totals: 461-424-469-439 — 1,793.
Strike & Spare Pro Shop (17)
Jackie Malone 233-200-233-236 — 902, Paul Dumas 220-224-203-224 — 871. Totals: 453-424-436-460 — 1,773.
Michelle Largeteau 132-132-134-94 — 492, Bill Miglianti 205-191-217-221 — 834. Totals: 337-323-351-315 — 834. Totals: 337-323-351-315 — 1,326.
A Plus Heating & Cooling (14)
Felicia Campanella 202-180-229-158 — 769, Tony Pasquerella 202-189-205-166 — 762. Totals: 404-369-434-324 — 1,531.
Marcella’s Appliance (6)
Jessica Brockmyer 183-278-170-202 — 833, Don Herrington 214-219-179-200 — 812. Totals: 397-497-349-402 — 1,645.