Being a multi-sport athlete was important for Haley Grabowski.
But the Greece Athena bowling star feared she’d stunt her growth as a bowler if she continued to play basketball and softball.
“She broke coach’s hearts,” Greece Athena bowling coach Lisa Cannon said. “We’re very lucky she puts in the dedication, not just for our team, but for the overall bowling program.”
Grabowski is satisfied with her decision. Her 222.93 average — almost 15 pins per game better than last season — is the highest in Section V.
She was Section V’s pins leader as an eighth-grader, too — her first of three straight years being selected to the All-Greater Rochester bowling team.
“I knew I could have a big future in bowling,” Grabowski said. “I think it was a good decision because I can practice more in the sport I want to pursue in college.”
Mary Grabowski, Haley’s mother, was comfortable letting her daughter make the decision by herself.
“I always knew bowling has been No. 1,” Mary Grabowski said. “She wants to bowl in college. I told her to follow her dreams.”
Haley Grabowski made a name for herself as a youth bowler.
By the time Grabowski was in middle school, her potential was clear in local bowling circles.
“We knew in sixth grade she was going to be good,” said coach Dick Zimmer, who created Greece Athena’s bowling program in 2000-01. “It was just a question of how hard she was going to work to do it, and nobody has worked any harder at it in 22 years. She’s no where near her peak yet.”
Grabowski was so well-renowned and likeable as a sixth-grader, she became Greece Athena bowling team’s “mascot” while she was too young to bowl varsity. She built bonds before officially joining the team as a seventh grader.
“There was always something special about Haley. Even as a seventh grader,” Cannon said. “Her technique, the way she throws the ball, and adjusting to lane conditions. Even her mental toughness was special.”
Seventh-grade Grabowski shot a 176. She then led Section V with a 209.68 as an eighth-grader, guiding the Trojans to a section title and a state tournament appearance. Her older sister, Leah, shot 193 on that title team. They both boasted about the nice bus they took to states.
“I think it was really cool being on the same team. We both got to cheer each other on,” Leah Grabowski said.
“It was such a good experience to bowl with my sister. She taught me a lot,” Haley Grabowski said.
As a freshman, Haley Grabowski’s 216.51 was second-best in Section V. She shot 209.55 as a sophomore for the sixth-best average.
Grabowski saw strides at the Junior Gold Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan in July. She’s been a few times, this time advancing to the third round and placed 67th out of 298 girls in the U-15 division.
That experience, and her coaches Cannon, Zimmer and Dave Warren, are why she’s improved so much.
“I know I’ve become a better bowler since then,” Grabowski said. “Each time I bowl, I have a goal in my head. I always tell myself to stay positive.”
Grabowski and Rush-Henrietta’s Keaton Ostrowski have been a couple for about a year. The couple practice together and have seen each other’s improvements. Ostrowski is currently Section V’s top boys bowler.
“I’ve watched her improve so much — a drastic amount,” Ostrowski said. “I’m so proud of her for that. We’ve done it together. She helps me, and I help her.”
Greece Athena graduated 13 seniors last season.
There are some key returners who has led the Trojans to a 30-20 start through their first 50 games.
Junior Ashlynn Cooney is averaging 180. Senior Julia Levey is typically paired with Grabowski and Cooney.
“With Haley, it’s not about her. It’s about helping to make the team better, which is awesome,” Cannon said.
Victor was the team to beat in Monroe County Division I through 50 games.
Elianna Wilder (199) and Nadine Carr (177) led the Blue Devils to a 48-2 start.
Fairport (42-8) is home to the top two bowlers in Division I: Mackenzie Smolnik (207) and Rainah Roos (199). Kayla Richardson (174) and Webster Schroeder began 38-7, while Abigail Bernard (160) guided Eastridge to a 27-18 start.
In Monroe County Division II, Greece Arcadia stood on top at 42-3, thanks to consistent shooting from Elizabeth Anderson (174) and Brook Scioria (170).
Abby Unson has led Gates-Chile to a 37-8 start. Her 203.44 average was second in the league.
“She’s very good and competitive,” Grabowski said about Unson. “We bowl against each other in school and other leagues, so we’re good friends.”
Isabella Ferraro (201) and Emily Chapman (194) have been hovering around 200 at Hilton (31-19). Aurora Yantz (181) and Rush-Henrietta (30-30) split their first 60 games
Other strong bowlers in the area include Spencerport’s Samantha CzerwBrockport’s Kayla StephensPenn Yan’s Andy Kniffin and Newark’s Natalie Kent, Rebecca Spry and Emily Lang.
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