By Jacob Munoz ‘17
The bowling alley can be seen through many scopes, including as a fun diversion from life’s realities and the setting for a sports showdown. Perhaps for the Brother Rice bowling team, it is seen as both. After a season culminating in a Catholic League South Division title and close exits from championship games, the team, led by head coaches Mr. Daniher and assistant coaches Mr. McAuliffe and Mr. Dwyer, tackles the 2015-16 season.
The deciding match for Rice to take the division was versus rival St. Laurence, in which the Crusaders emerged victorious. This achievement, Coach McAuliffe said, was the result of “great work ethic” and aim of the whole team during the season.
“We set our goals each year to be one: To win the Catholic League outright, and two: To try and qualify to get downstate as a team.” noted McAuliffe. “We work through that in practice, we keep reminding our guys throughout the year that is our goal, and they keep that in mind, so I think it’s a lot of goal-orientation and hard work on their part.”
Coach Daniher said he viewed the team’s success as a result of clutch performances. “I believe what helped achieve this is that all through the year in the Catholic League, we rose to the occasion. Every time someone would get close to us in the standings, we would win.”
While the division title was a bright spot for the team, the 2014-15 season also saw heartbreak for the both levels of bowling in the manner of close scores. The varsity finished seven pins shy of making the Catholic League championship, while the junior varsity were only three pins away from a spot in the league’s semifinals. At sectionals, the team was short of going downstate by twenty pins. Daniher commented that if he could describe the season with just one word, it would be “frustrating”, though mainly the ending.
However, there remained positive aspects of the season. “A lot of the young guys stepped up and did well.” remarked Daniher. “We had a lot of guys who played varsity for the first time as sophomores and they improved their game and did well.” He also commended current senior Nick Smith, who last season was co-captain and made state championships. “Nick practices very hard. His will to succeed is tremendous,” said Coach Daniher. “He even tries to get the guys out off days [from practice]. He’s always working on his game, and he’s a great competitor. He hates to lose.”
“What I think was great about last year,” said McAuliffe, “was the camaraderie we built as a team. There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’ for [the players]. They are about team. They pick each other up when they’re down. They work hard…and they try to help each other out when they can, how they can…I think that’s a testament to their character as well. These guys work hard; they take bowling seriously.”
With the current season underway, the coaches are looking to improve the team’s consistency as a result of last season’s problems. Daniher pinpointed the wearing down of lanes, which affects the ball’s direction during the third games in matches, as a cause of lower scores. “You’ve gotta adjust the way you throw the ball,” he said, “and we need to do a better job at that.” McAuliffe stressed having score averages remain steady, saying, “It makes my job so much easier as a coach to be able to know exactly what I’m getting from a bowler if he’s very consistent…It helps me make the lineup and it helps me bring the team together.”
The goal for the bowling team will be the same as always – the goal of a Catholic League championship and a trip downstate remains. But with success in the past, a few changes could perhaps make this goal a reality for Brother Rice.