The beginning of a bowling dynasty at Hills

Students at Hills have struggled to do the things they love because of the pandemic. Fortunately, bowling has remained just as exciting –– and maybe even more.

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Contributed by Jordan Saxon

The girls’ and boys’ bowling teams at Pascack Hills. The boys’ team recently won a division championship.

[Editor’s note: Simmie Brisman is a member of the girls’ bowling team at Hills.]

You wake up on your seventh birthday, gather all of your friends, and head down to the one place you know you have to go to celebrate. You bring three boxes of pizza and an abundance of positive energy. Bumpers up, on lane 22, you bowl and have the birthday of your life.

Bowling brings people so many happy memories from when they were kids; however, the sport can still bring fun to them now. This year, students at Pascack Hills have struggled to do the things they love because of the pandemic. Fortunately, bowling has remained just as exciting as past years –– and maybe even more –– as a dynasty at Hills begins.

I think bowling is one of the sports [where] once you really get into it, it is really cool to watch and play.”

— Sean McNeice, Hills bowler

This excitement has not been without Covid-safe guidelines being implemented. Senior bowler Ben Cho said, “We bowl on separate lanes. Each team has its own lanes. It sort of takes away from the competition aspect because it just feels like you are just bowling by yourself, but it is still a competition, so we still have that sort of mindset.”

“My favorite part about bowling is the atmosphere,” said Sean McNeice, who is also a senior on the bowling team. “I think bowling is one of the sports [where] once you really get into it, it is really cool to watch and play.”

Six bowlers get to bowl at a time on the varsity team. The top four scores count for the game. There is no junior varsity bowling this year, so coach Jordan Saxon substitutes bowlers into the match when he sees fit. Last year, only four bowlers bowled for varsity, and the rest bowled for JV.

JAS Photo
The senior class of bowlers. Pictured from left to right: Simmie Brisman, Andrew Goldberg, Ben Cho, Sean McNeice, Sarah Chun, and Raymond Rosales.

Sean McNeice, Ben Cho, Harrison Stein, Andrew Goldberg, Jason Sorrentino, Peter Mauro, and Raymond Rosales comprise the boys’ bowling team; while Simmie Brisman, Sarah Chun, Haydn Hopper, Leila Dhawan, Jillian Fleishman, Adriane Heit, and Samantha Klein comprise the girls’ bowling team.

According to Coach Saxon, who is an English teacher at Hills, bowling is an inclusive sport that allows players to make it whatever they want it to be.

Saxon has only coached the bowling team for four years, and his team has improved each year. This year is his best bowling team for the boys and the girls. “The boys play with an intensity that other teams just can’t match, and the girls are so relaxed and fun with each other while still competing hard,” said Saxon.

Hills bowling coach and English teacher Jordan Saxon.

The boys’ bowling team has been doing well this season. They came in fourth place at the county tournament and were three pins away from third place. The county tournament takes place every year at Bowler City in Hackensack, and all bowling teams from Bergen County compete.

The highest score you can get in bowling is a 300. In counties, senior bowler Sean McNeice had an 858 series while Cho had an 802 series. This means for all four games they bowled, they impressively averaged over 200 pins per game. You need to average 200 pins per game to be considered a professional bowler.

After coming close to winning counties, they are ready to take home their title and win the league championship by the end of the season. “We want that title,” McNeice emphasized, reflecting the team’s determination.

On Feb. 23, the boys’ bowling team became the Big North Patriot Division champions –– the best bowlers in their league.

Students at Pascack Hills can join the bowling team at any time throughout the year. This school year, the girls’ team saw three freshmen join in January. Everyone is welcome at any time, and the bowling team continues to grow.

“It is really fun and a very different experience than what I am used to with sports,” freshman Jillian Fleishman said.

Like the boys’ team, the girls also have two graduating seniors on their team. Simmie Brisman and Sarah Chun both bowled a high game of 193 this year and are excited to bowl in the county tournament on Feb. 27. “I am looking forward to breaking 200 in the county tournament. If we all bowl our best, we have a chance at ranking high,” Chun said.

It’s an environment that just brings students together in ways that other sports can’t.”

— Jordan Saxon, Hills bowling coach

There are only a couple of weeks left in the season, the final one for the graduating seniors. Despite the sadness, the senior bowlers know that bowling is an activity they can do their entire lifetime; it never has to come to an end.

For example, bowlers can sign up for a 12-week bowling league at Montvale Lanes, the primary place where the Hills bowling team practices.

Bowling brings joy to students and teachers alike. Saxon described it as “an environment that just brings students together in ways that other sports can’t… Any athletes out there without a winter sport… bowling is calling.”