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Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Pete Girolamo has built the Waverly bowling program from scratch and has 11 championship banners here at the Valley Bowling Center, but the 2021 season is more about getting his student-athletes safely through a full season than adding another banner.

“I want to build programs and win. Winning is important to me,” he said. “I don’t like to lose, but the most important thing this year is giving all these kids an opportunity. If we do that safely, I think we’ve done a great job.

“If we win on top of that, it’s a bonus,” added Girolamo.

VBC proprietor Greg Joseph has been an assistant coach with Girolamo since the inception of the program — more than two decades ago. Not only has he been instrumental in the success, but he and Girolamo are making sure they do what needs to be done to ensure the bowling season goes off as planned in these unprecedented times.

“Greg has created a situation where it’s as safe as it could be for us to compete, and I appreciate that.

“We are trying to keep them safe — that is the number one priority,” added Girolamo.

The longtime Waverly mentors believes his bowlers are aware of their good fortune.

“I look at this as a fantastic opportunity for kids to participate,” he said. “At this point, they are appreciative and thankful.

“They look at basketball and wrestling, and they know we didn’t play football or soccer .. bowling and swimming are the only two sports going,” added Girolamo. “I’m happy for them, these kids deserve the opportunity to compete.”

Girolamo notes Section IV has said all bowling matches will be virtual at least through the end of January.

“I was dead-set against the virtual bowling,” said Girolamo. “But it’s either we’re safe and the kids have a chance to bowl, or we don’t bowl at all, so I bought in.

“And, there’s a possibility that two weeks into the season, the numbers are down and we can travel to compete,” he noted. “Of course, there’s the chance the numbers go up, and we get shut down completely. No one know what’s going to happen.”

Girolamo laments the loss of the postseason (both the Section IV State Qualifier and the New York State Championships have been canceled), but is just happy there will still be a season.

“I don’t think we’re going to have the IAC or Section IV tournaments, but I’m hopeful we can still  pull them off,” he said.

“In a regular year, if the postseason was eliminated it would definitely effect the motivation for some of these kids … but I’m impressed that these kids are thankful they’re getting the chance to bowl and compete,” Girolamo added.

Sophomore Zach Vanderpool leads a large contingent of returning bowlers from a boys team that won the Large School Division title, and the overall IAC Championship postseason tournament.

“Zach just won the YBT, and is probably one of the top two or three guys in Section IV,” said Girolamo.

Seniors Matt Mauersberg, a six-year varsity bowler, and Richard Stevens, junior Cody Blackwell, and sophomores Ashton Pritchard and Ethan Roberts also return.

“We basically have six of our top seven back from last year,” said Girolamo.

“And, we have some good newcomers,” noted Girolamo. “They are league bowlers, and they are legit.

“We are eight or nine guys deep,” he added.

The top newcomers are seventh-graders Derek Johnson and Tristan Campbell, eighth-graders Dom Wood and Jase Sindoni, and freshmen Thomas Morley and Trenton Sindoni.

“We have a lot of kids, and the majority bowl here in the youth leagues,” said Girolamo. “Our only seniors are Matt Mauersberg and Richard Stevens.

“The future is bright,” he aded. “Hopefully, things go back to somewhat normal.”

Senior Candon Westervelt, sophomore Landyn Gunderson and eighth-grader Jason Peterson will also vie for time.

Girolamo notes the Lady Wolverines will be few, but should be mighty.

Waverly returns two of the best bowlers in the IAC in the Houseknecht sisters — sophomore Victoria, and freshman Rachel, as well as sophomore Shantilly Decker, and senior Haley Kittle.

Junior Sage Garrison saw limited time last season, and newcomer Serenity Conklin rounds out the roster.

“We only have six girls, but Rachel and Victoria Houseknecht are legit, so are Shantilly Decker and Haley Kittle,” he said. “They have a lot of experience.

“Sage Garrison improved at the end of last year,” added Girolamo. “Eight-grader Serenity Conklin was our manager last year, and she has improved.”

With the lack of numbers, Girolamo’s main concern is staying healthy.

“We’ll be OK if we stay healthy,” said Girolamo. “The problem is if we lose two bowlers for any reason, we’re going to be short for a match.

“Although, as good as the Houseknechts are, if they are still bowling, with just four we could beat some teams with five,” laughed Girolamo.

Waverly squares off with Tioga in the 2021 season opener Tuesday afternoon.


IN PHOTO: Clockwise, from left: Waverly’s Zach Vanderpool, Victoria Houseknecth, Rachel Houseknecht, and Matt Mauersberg. … VSR STOCK PHOTOS.

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