By DAN PIETRAFESA
Catholic New York
Chris Trapp is a newcomer to bowling with a 130 average and a high game of 201.
The 12-year-old at St. Ann’s School is one of many children enjoying Staten Island CYO’s bowling league.
It’s the only CYO bowling league in the archdiocese.
“I just started bowling about five months ago,” Chris told CNY. “My dad likes to bowl. We went to our bowling center, and I decided to try it. He taught me how to bowl, and I loved it.”
Chris competes for St. Ann’s team in the division for children in grades five through eight at Rab’s Country Lanes in the spring league, which began April 10 and runs for nine weeks. Forty-four children from kindergarten through high school compete on 15 teams representing 12 Staten Island parishes in divisions for grades K-2, 3-4 and 5-8 and for high school students.
Some teams have bowlers from more than one parish, and public school students from Catholic families may participate. Bowlers compete each Tuesday and receive free shoe rental and a jersey as part of the registration fee.
“I like that you can bowl with your friends and you’re all on a team,” Chris said. “I would tell my friends that it’s fun and they should give it a shot. It’s worth it. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to continue.”
Michael Neely, Staten Island CYO county coordinator, first thought about starting a CYO bowling league three years ago, and it became a reality in 2017 after he was talking with the parent of a young bowler. He contacted the bowling center, and a league was formed. Ninety-two children participated in the fall bowling league, and 56 competed during the winter.
Bowling adds to Staten Island’s CYO lineup, one of the bigger programs in the archdiocese. The program fielded 419 basketball and 25 cheerleading teams this past winter. Last spring, more than 600 kids participated in track and field, and Staten Island CYO fielded 39 baseball and softball teams.
“It’s very exciting. I’m happy,” Neely said. “Over the last three years, I started to notice people are looking for different things for their kids to do, especially sports…In bowling, everybody participates, and no one sits on the bench.
“Anything we can do for children to give them opportunities and socialize with other children is really what we do here. I heard from parents, who didn’t know about the program, and they want to keep it going.”
Daniel DosSantos is the father of three young bowlers from St. Ann’s parish, Daniella, 12, Jackie, 11 and Vincenzo, 5. All three started in the fall league and have returned each season. Vincenzo passed on playing soccer to bowl this spring.
“They enjoy being with their friends. They’re having a good time,” said DosSantos. “They have friendly coaches teaching them to be good sports and how to enjoy the game.”
Larry Ambrosino, a Staten Island CYO volunteer, now watches his grandson bowl each Tuesday. His grandson, Jack Harkin, a sixth-grader at Intermediate School 24 on Staten Island, gave up karate to try bowling for the league’s winter season. “Bowling is fun, and I’ve made friends there,” Jack said.
Mary Konz has a 9-year-old son, Paul, in the league. She said bowling is an activity he can enjoy with his peers and his family. Paul sometimes bowls with his father, Paul, grandfather Hans Konz and uncle David Konz.
“It’s a sport he can do, and he looks forward to going every Tuesday. I’m happy to see him smile and have fun,” Ms. Konz said.
Paul Konz, a third-grader at St. Ann’s, holds a 70 average on the lanes, but he had another reason for joining. “I like having fun, and bowling is fun,” he said.