Revived Bowling Team Is Having Fun

Samantha Schurr leads the Bonackers at the Clubhouse lanes
Samantha Schurr, a senior, is the team’s number-one; Matt Rosario, left, and Sy Webb, right, are numbers two and three. Jack Graves

It’s been a rarity here when a female is a male team’s number-one, but that is the case on East Hampton High’s bowling team this season, and, interestingly, the Clubhouse, on whose lanes the team practices, is managed by Scott Rubenstein, who, when Sandy Fleischman played number-one and he two for a while on the boys tennis team in the late 1970s, used to tell his friends that it was because her last name came first in the alphabet.

By contrast, Matt Rosario, a freshman, and Sy Webb, a sophomore, East Hampton’s number-two and three bowlers — Webb was a two-way lineman on the junior varsity football team this past fall — seem unfazed by the fact that Samantha Schurr, a senior, averages about 60 more pins than they, who are both new to the sport, do.

The camaraderie during the recently revived team’s practice session at the Clubhouse last Thursday was palpable, owing in part to the new coach, Mike Vitulli, who, according to Joe Vas, East Hampton’s athletic director, “is great with the kids.”

And, Vitulli would probably say, owing to the kids themselves, who during conversations that day said bowling’s camaraderie was one of the sport’s pluses.

That mutual support must have been apparent at a recent match with Longwood, for “a grandfather of one of the Longwood kids, who wants to remain anonymous,” Vitulli said, “gave our kids $1,500 worth of equipment — new balls and bags and shoes.”

Needless to say, the team, the first one East Hampton High has fielded since East Hampton Bowl was razed in favor of a new CVS store at the entrance to East Hampton Village five or so years ago, has not won any matches, “though we’ve won some games and we’re coming along,” said Vitulli. “Sam’s averaging around 181, and Matt and Sy, who started at 75, are averaging 120. . . . They’re learning a lifetime sport, and they’re having fun. The Clubhouse has been fantastic. We practice here every day.” 

The team must play its matches at the All Star Lanes in Riverhead for the time being inasmuch as the Clubhouse’s new string pin-setting machines have yet to be officially sanctioned. When asked, Schurr, who bowls in tournaments throughout Long Island, and who would have joined the varsity as a seventh-grader had not the East Hampton Bowl property been sold, said the Clubhouse’s lanes were not, at least in her case, as high-scoring as others she’d been on — a good thing, presumably, when it comes to bowling on automatic pin-setter lanes offering somewhat more pin action.

In reply to a question, Schurr, as well as Rosario and Webb, said she wasn’t distracted by the three humongous television screens — one of which was showing the Djokovic-Tsonga Australian Open tennis match — above and behind the pins. “They’ve got TVs at the All Star Lanes too,” she said.

Schurr’s high game as of that day was a 237. She bowled a 236 in the county singles-doubles tournament a couple of weeks ago. 

Seventeen now, she began bowling as a 4-year-old with Steve Graham at East Hampton Bowl. Syracuse is one of the colleges she’s interested in, though it does not have a team. Adelphi, which does, has accepted her, and she’s also interested in Daemen College in Amherst, N.Y., which offers bowling as a varsity sport.

East Hampton is to participate in the county’s wildcard tournament at Bowl Long Island in Patchogue Tuesday. The winning team will receive a berth in the county team tourney.