AT Girls’ Bowling Team continues their season with a 2-9 losing record while maintaining a fun spirit throughout the season.
Retiring this year, Physical Education teacher Stephen Gilliam relays his experience as his last year as the Girls’ Bowling coach.
“It’s been a great experience. Through coaching girls, I’ve learned that girls are appreciative of coaching. Guys are a little harder to get to, but girls’ bowling has been a wonderful experience,” said Gilliam.
The IHSA requires schools to house an equal number of boys’ and girls’ sports teams, or house a higher number of girls’ teams. For that reason, there are no plans or conversations regarding a potential boys’ bowling team.
“Title 9. The IHSA requires there to be equal numbers of girls’ and boys’ sports teams, or the girls have to have more. If we were to add a boys’ team, we’d have to add another girls’ team. We have no plans for a boys’ team,” said Gilliam.
In light of the team’s Gilliam prioritizes fun and the team’s gradual improvement over scores.
“The girls are so receptive to information. They eat snacks, they listen to music on their phone, they do homework, all while practicing their bowling. It’s a great experience for them, and they don’t know it, but along the way, they get better and better,” said Gilliam.
The team welcomes bowlers of all ages, skill levels, and goals.
“These girls come to us with almost no experience, no equipment, and we teach them,” said Gilliam.
With Gilliam’s retirement, the Physical Education department was tasked with assigning an Assistant Bowling Coach. Physical Education Department Head Rob Schader was chosen for the job.
“It’s great to have him. He comes with a ton of experience, and he’s taking that experience, and learning bowling fundamentals, and transferring that to the girls. So, he’s having fun, and they’re having fun,” said Gilliam.
Schader is excited for what the future holds for the remainder of the season and for years to come.
“The position was added because we have a lot of new girls out this year. The future looks really good with a couple of good junior bowlers, a few sophomores, and several really good freshman bowlers. I’m excited about this year and the next several years as well,” said Schader
The team utilizes two facilities: Stardust Bowl and Wood Dale Bowl. The girls are split into 2 groups for practices for the first time to accommodate the team’s growing size.
“So we’ve been able to split up into 2 groups, so JV will go to one place, and varsity will go to another, and then on Fridays, we bowl together,” said Gilliam.
They practice from 4-6 pm for 5 days a week.
“A lot of our girls don’t have transportation, so we make sure to bus over at 3:45 pm and be back by 6 pm for the activity bus. The girls enjoy the bus rides; it’s a chance for them to bond. These little groups will form. There’ll be music, and they have a good time,” said Gilliam.
The girls’ bowling team is headed by three co-captains: Seniors Sarah Soucie, Lindsay Stevenson, and Jackie Benitez, all of whom are 4-year bowlers.
“They’re sort of like the team moms. They run around and make sure everyone knows what they’re doing,” said Gilliam.
Soucie leads the team with a high game of 221, closely followed by junior Kylie Fiermuga with a high game of 217.
Soucie, like Gilliam, prioritizes the team’s improvement. She shares her favorite memory on the team. “My favorite memory of the past four years is just seeing everyone improve. It’s not easy and it’s very frustrating along the way and seeing everyone having fun is the best part of it.
While the girls take part in matches Tuesdays and Thursdays, they also participate in tournaments, which consist of 6 games–3 before lunch, and 3 after.
“This season I’m looking forward to the tournaments. They are a good way to start bonding because they go from 7:30-4pm so it gives you a chance to get to know each other a little bit better,” said Soucie.
The girls will play Morton on Jan 25 in their next match. Gilliam and Schader encourage all interested underclassmen to learn more about the AT Girls’ Bowling Team.