It’s been a bit of a struggle for the East Hampton boys and girls bowling team as it navigates its first season back at the varsity level after a four-year layoff, but it had a shining moment just before the holiday break.
A Longwood grandfather, whom East Hampton head coach Mike Vitulli declined to identify, donated $1,500 worth of new equipment to the team, including personalized balls, bags and shoes for each player. The Bonackers were able to show off their new digs in their first match of the new year on January 3 against Southold at The All Star in Riverhead.
“He didn’t really do it as a publicity stunt, it was really just out of his own generosity,” Vitulli said of the donor. “He saw a team that was new, kids that have potential and he was kind enough to donate everything. It was like Santa Claus came early.”
East Hampton is made up of largely boys and therefore competes in League IV of Suffolk County boys bowling, with perennial powerhouses such as Longwood and Sachem, who both average close to a 200 game per player, but seasoned programs such as Middle Country, Rocky Point, Comsewogue, Riverhead and Southold have proven to be difficult as well for the Bonackers, who practice at The Clubhouse in East Hampton, but play home matches at The All Star.
The Bonackers have only one veteran bowler on the team in senior Samantha Schurr, who travels throughout the region to bowl and is looking to play the sport in college. It’s no surprise that she leads the team in just about every stat, including total wood (4,119), average (171) and series (585), and she’s the only East Hampton bowler to have bowled over a 200, having done so four times with 213 being her high score.
“She’s been great. She’s definitely done a good job. She’s definitely helped the other players,” Vitulli said of Schurr.
The hope, Vitulli said, is that the younger bowlers will join youth leagues during the offseason to continue to improve and craft their game. The Clubhouse currently doesn’t offer youth leagues but Vitulli said there is talk that it will at some point in the future. With nine of the 14 bowlers on the team being freshmen or sophomores, there is plenty of time for them to improve. Vitulli said that he’s already seen a few of the bowlers take a turn in a positive direction, particularly junior Hayden Luengas, who has improved her score quite a bit. Averaging a 110, she shot a 155 against Southold on Thursday, January 3.
East Hampton hosted Sachem on Tuesday and will play Rocky Point at Port Jeff Bowl this Thursday, January 10, at 4:30 p.m.