Dec. 8, 2023 --
It’s not often that a high school bowling match draws a crowd that sounds like a basketball game. But that’s just what happened when Heights High’s bowling team competed in its first match of the season against Brunswick at Medina AMF on November 29.
Following each player’s two traditional ten-frame match-ups, Coach Charmaine Allen selects the top five bowlers to participate in a Baker game. This unique team effort pits one team of five against another, with each bowler bowling two frames. On this particular night, Heights High’s team consisted of Gabe McKay bowling the first and 6th frames, Matthew Catron bowling the second and 7th, Tyler McCann bowling the 3rd and 8th, Kevin Clark, Jr. bowling the 4th and 9th, and Marcus Holland bowling the 5th and 10th frames. Coach Allen always puts Marcus in at anchor “because he is clutch,” she said of the perpetually cool and composed senior.
Gabe started the match off bowling a strike. Matt followed. Then Kevin, Tyler, and Marcus did the same. By this point, people had started to gather around. There were other teams competing in another section of the alley, plus certain lanes open to the public.
As the Heights team began to roll their second frames, they had quite a crowd watching. Gabe bowled another strike. Matt followed. Kevin too. The crowd grew, with cheers going up after every strike.
According to Coach Allen, a 200 is a very good score for a Baker match, something she encourages her team to achieve. “You have to close your frame,” she always tell them. “You have an obligation to finish your frame, even if it’s with a spare.”
But Heights High didn’t have any trouble closing their frames and they didn’t need to rely on any spares. Tyler rolled a strike. Then it was Marcus’ turn: Strike. Now he had two extra frames to bowl. Strike. Strike.
As spectators, parents and fellow bowlers broke into shouts and cheers, Marcus turned around and calmly said, “Coach, how’s that for 200?” Because the Heights High team had bowled a perfect score, a whopping 300 points, which is good enough to automatically qualify them for the national tournament in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in June.
“When I turned around, I was shocked to see so many people watching us. It honestly sounded like a basketball gym in there,” said Coach Allen. Despite Marcus’ calm, she found herself moved to tears. “I’ve been with these kids since they were freshmen when most of them knew nothing about bowling.”
When the team won the Lake Erie League Championship last year and Allen was named Coach of the Year, she declared to Athletic Director Joe D’Amato that her team would make it to the State Championship this year. That goal still remains unknown as the season has just begun and they’ll need to perform well at the conference, district, and regionals levels. “But look at us,” said Coach Allen. “We’re going to Nationals.”
The team needs the help of the community to get there though. With an ever-shrinking athletic budget and the surprise of this rare success, the team will need to fundraise to cover its transportation, hotel, and food costs. If any community members would like to support bowling’s remarkable accomplishment with a donation, please reach out to Charmaine Allen at [email protected]
or Tammy Owings at [email protected]