Coventry bowling dealing with uncertainty of season
COVENTRY TWP. On the surface, the inaugural season of Metro Athletic Conference bowling should be an exciting, memorable experience for all of the conference's teams and their fans.
Reality has proven to be a bit different thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected sports across the board. Even in bowling, a sport with a relatively small number of competitors compared to other sports and one squarely in the category of non-contact sports, the impacts have been felt.
The Coventry Comets are among the programs dealing with what the coronavirus has brought to sports and as they make their way through a near month-long break between their most recent match and their next scheduled contest - not slated until after the new year begins - the current reality for bowling is still sinking in.
"We've had four cancellations due to COVID-19. It is a little bit easier for bowling (versus other sports), but they've cut down the number of bowlers you can have for a match," Coventry head coach Aaron Rose said. "You can only have six bowlers, so you just have one sub for varsity, which means if two guys are not bowling well, you have only one guy you can sub in."
In addition to a smaller number of bowlers for each team, the MAC has also elected not to allow fans at its matches. While bowling matches don't draw the hundreds or thousands of spectators some other sports bring in, there are typically a few dozen parents, family members and friends on hand, not to mention the entire varsity roster.
In an effort to at least allow parents to see their children compete, Coventry has tried to rotate a different parent in as its scorekeeper for each match. Other than the six bowlers and coaches, the scorekeeper is typically the only non-competitor on hand this season.
Additionally, bowling has followed a similar path as wrestling, another sport that typically has quite a few tournaments during the regular season, but which has largely canceled such events this season.
"It's been a lot more smaller events, although we did have our one preseason conference tournament, " Rose said. "We haven't bowled in many tournaments because of the size of those kinds of events. It's different and now, they keep the bowlers from one team on one set of lanes instead of having maybe three from your team and two from the other team on the same lane. It's not as competitive a feeling bowling with all of your bowlers on one lane."
Keeping bowlers from opposing teams from sharing a lane during matches is a way of reducing contact and exposure to more individuals during competition and while it's designed to improve safety, as Rose noted, it's had an impact on the overall atmosphere around matches.
Despite the changes and challenges, Coventry's girls team has gotten on a roll early in the season, posting a 6-1 record with its lone loss coming in league play. The boys are 4-4 and have bowled well for the most part, also finishing fifth at the preseason MAC tournament.
Both teams have four primary bowlers who have anchored their respective lineups, with several other bowlers rotating in the fifth spot in the starting five. Senior John Welsh and sophomore Ryder Swafford have emerged as the top scorers for the boys, while sophomore Amanda Morton, senior Abbie Kintz and junior Alexis Rose have done the same for the girls.
Welsh, Mason Gainer and Sam Adcock are the three seniors for the boys, while Kintz, Alyssa Carte, Maddie Haeftling and Savannah Peck are the four seniors on the roster for the girls team.
The key to success for both teams, Rose suggested, is finding a bowler to emerge as a constant fifth scorer on a regular basis. Due to two teams in the MAC - Streetsboro and Cloverleaf - pausing their seasons, Coventry finds itself in a bit of a lull in its schedule. The Comets are practicing, but don't have another match until January.
"We'll take a little break and give them the week of Christmas off," Rose said. "We're still practicing this week and we'll try to get in three or four practices before our next match. Hopefully they are able to rest their arms, hands and anything else that's hurting during the break."
For the 10 boys and 11 girls on the roster for the Comets, the big hope is that when January rolls around, they and their scheduled opponents are healthy and cleared to compete. Their current break could be a chance to reset and refocus, allowing them to start fresh when their season finally resumes.