By Andrew Wroblewski
When former Northport High School math teacher Elliot Klein passed away in 2013, it dealt a blow to the community. Not only did it lose a beloved math teacher, it lost a dear friend and leader of the girls bowling team for decades.
The bowling team came to a halt in 2011 when Klein was diagnosed with brain cancer and left the bowling program to Head Coach Kevin McGinn in 2011-2012. After a middling performance, the team failed to generate enough interest the following season to roster a team. As Klein passed away in June 2013, it seemed as if the Lady Tigers bowling program might die alongside him.
“I was sitting with then-athletic director Drew Cronin at [Klein’s] funeral and I mentioned that it was a shame we didn’t have a girls bowling team anymore,” Brian Sundberg said.
At that moment, as if Sundberg flicked a switch, Cronin knew what had to be done: he would ask Sundberg to take over as head coach and revive the program. After a meeting between the two, it was settled – the Lady Tigers would return to Larkfield Lanes for the 2013-2014 season. The girls did just that and have been building ever since thanks to a great response that’s seen 40 or more bowlers participate last season and, once again, for 2014-2015.
“We’re building… slowly but surely,” Sundberg, also a math teacher at Northport High School, said. “We got our first win under our belts [last week]… To see them getting that win, and the smiles it put on their faces, was just phenomenal.”
The Lady Tigers (1-2) defeated Copiague, 2-1, on Dec. 9, the team’s first win since 2012. Jennifer Ruder, a senior, led Northport in Game 3 by shooting a 143 to seal it 633-619 in favor of the Lady Tigers.
“I want to see them win, not for me, but for them,” Sundberg said. “They come down here, they’re respectful, they’re cooperative and they do their thing… All 44 girls are great and a pleasure to work with.”
Accompanying Ruder on this year’s starting squad have been fellow-seniors, Gillian Mohr, Alexa Warnock, Mary Gibbons, Jaclyn Mauro; juniors, Emily Feit, Sage Bruno, Melissa Garrecht; sophomore, Amelia Cusack; and freshman Samantha Fanuka.
“The girls go out there, they smile and they do the best that they can – what else can I ask from them?” the second-year head coach said.
Up next for Northport on Tuesday after press time was a trip to AMF Babylon Lanes to face Bay Shore (2-2). Today, at East Islip Lanes, the Lady Tigers will face Central Islip (1-3) in a rematch of their first match of the season – scheduled to start at 4 p.m.