Girls bowling gets the Pin back in match against Evanston

The team faces struggles in virtual matches but stays engaged


David Hjelmgren

The team defeats Evanston in a socially distanced match and won traveling trophy —The Pin — back.

On Feb. 8, the girls bowling team took home the infamous Pin that is passed back and forth with their rival Evanston. 

The Pin is a traveling trophy between each team that is awarded to the winner of the most recent match between the teams. The tradition of passing the Pin has been around since 2014, according to Head Coach David Hjelmgren

Junior Ava Vickery is happy that the team is having a strong start to this different season, and is excited about their current record, but especially about winning the Pin back. 

“Evanston is a really tough competitor and throughout the match some of us were certain that we were losing.” she said.  

We weren’t sure until we saw the Evanston captain walking the Pin to us, which was just the best feeling,”

— Ava Vickery

The season has been rocky for the team. While they officially started on Nov. 18, the girls haven’t been able to practice until late January because of the state and IHSA shutting down high school sports. They have continued on with a modified and shortened season. 

Hjelmgren said the gap in the season forced them to change the way they meet, ultimately changing the way the team performs. 

“We did meet on zoom to try to keep our camaraderie, but that’s really not the same as getting in your practice. You do lose some strength and you do lose some consistency.” 

Although the team started back up again, the preparation process is different than usual. For both practices and matches, they are now limited to bowling 3 people to a lane instead of the typical 5 before the pandemic. 

Junior Ella Kastelic said that the bowling alleys were closed for many months and she was not able to bowl regularly. 

“I felt rusty and wasn’t used to being inside with a mask and sharing lanes with my teammates. I felt rushed to get ready for the season and I wished that I had more time to prepare,” she said. 

Due to the modified season, the team only had two weeks of practice before their first match. With competitions virtual this year, each team bowls on their own lanes at their own alley and then compares scores by typing it in a spreadsheet afterwards to see who wins. 

Junior Erika Truong said that this way of competing takes a lot of the excitement out of matches. 

“The matches aren’t as exciting as they were before since we don’t get to see our opponents,” Troung said, “but we are doing our best to keep our spirits up throughout the games.” 

Vickery said that she is more nervous than usual because there’s no way to know who’s winning until the very end of the match. She thinks virtual competitions impact the team in a more negative way. 

“We can’t see the scores of the other team so we haven’t had as much motivation to do as well as we know we can,” Vickery said, “The energy also gets really low at certain points which greatly hurts the team because nobody is cheering each other on and it’s just a downward spiral from there.”

Although she does miss seeing her teammates’ faces during matches, Kastelic does see a positive side to this new format. 

“We can’t high-five, can’t do carb fest, no carpools, no huddles and no other teams competing on our lanes.  But we are grateful to still have a season, to bowl together as a team and to cheer each other on. We try to make it as normal as possible,” she said. 

Hjelmgren also feels happy that there is some competition for the team to experience. 

“The most important thing is that we are active and we are a team together. Even though it’s not ideal. Like I said, it’s much better than nothing,” he said. 

The team’s current record is 8-0, including wins over Niles North, Evanston, and Vernon Hills. 

Whether it’s during a pandemic or regular times, Hjelmgren wants to take a moment to celebrate those victories. 

“There’s certainly an energy that’s lost when you are not competing directly with your competition. It’s definitely more difficult to stay focused on the goal. But I do think that our team is doing a great job. Taking up one frame at a time and staying positive.”