Spartans and Pinheads Look to Capture New Season

A preview of the season for the Spartans and Pinheads, Stuyvesant’s boys’ and girls’ varsity bowling teams, following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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By The Photo Department

After a lost season due to the pandemic, the Spartans, Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity bowling team, and the Pinheads, Stuyvesant’s girls’ varsity bowling team, are eager to bounce back into their respective leagues strong. The Spartans ended a successful 2019-2020 season, placing first in the PSAL Manhattan I Division with a record of 11-1 and making it to the semifinals of the playoffs. The Pinheads weren’t as lucky as they were eliminated during the second round of PSAL playoffs in both the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons, but they are confident that they too can emerge strong in the coming season.

Since most of the previous members of both teams have graduated, the Spartans and Pinheads are looking at entirely revamped lineups. The Spartan A team will be led by captains and juniors Shafiel Towhid and Joshua Chan, while the Pinheads will be led by captains and seniors Sabrina Chen and Yaqi Zeng. The captains for both teams hope to interest more players in the continuously growing sport. Chen has already held Pinheads interest meetings and no-cut tryouts for all grades, while Towhid has been helping new and veteran Spartans players at practices over the past five months.

The biggest challenges for both teams are filling the empty voids that the now graduated seniors left. Last season’s Spartans consisted entirely of juniors and seniors, with the exception of Towhid and Chan. Now, they have two teams of four players each, ranging from 105 points per game (PPG) to 190 PPG. The Pinheads are looking at a team of around 10 mostly junior and senior players, all of whom joined this year with the exception of Chen. Zeng sees this experience as a learning opportunity for all members, including the captains. “Because of the pandemic, all of us haven’t had much experience in official bowling tournaments, but we’re excited to try and work together as a team,” she said. Another obstacle for both teams is the lack of coaches. In previous years, Coach Nieves and Coach Simon had taken up roles for the girls’ team, but after the pandemic, the Pinheads’ captains are struggling to find one for this year.

As for new protocols implemented due to COVID-19, the PSAL requires all members to participate in free COVID testing. The bowling facility at Jib Lanes in Queens requires that players wear masks and wash their hands before and after playing. Jib Lanes also provides sanitation stations and follows appropriate CDC sanitizing procedures. However, some players don’t think that Jib Lanes has done a proper job with their COVID-19 prevention efforts as the newly implemented vaccination checking desk doesn’t even check players’ vaccination status. “The bowling lanes themselves naturally provide distancing, but that just means [there are] no extra safety measures taken for physical distancing other than the mask mandate made by the city,” junior and player Juniper Chien stated.

Towhid’s goal for the Spartans this year is to defend their crown and defeat their close competitors, Hunter College High School and Beacon High School. “We’re looking to reach the Staten Island playoffs and get at least top three in the Manhattan I Division League,” Towhid said.

Chen’s goals for the Pinheads are geared more toward scores as she hopes that each player bowls at least 200 out of 300 PPG. Zeng also has high hopes for the team. “With our current situation, we’re hoping to first make sure that each player can hone [...] skills individually before setting expectations of our final ranking as a team,” she said.

Over the course of the pandemic and last summer, both the Spartans and Pinheads dedicated their time toward recruiting more students and practicing on the weekends. Players spent several hours each weekend at Jib Lanes, working to improve as a team and as individual bowlers, with the help of many bowling team alumni. Towhid and Chen are looking to use the momentum from their last season this year, with Towhid confident about their prospects. “[The teams] had an almost complete revamp,” he said. “We’re looking [toward] a bright future for the Stuyvesant bowling teams.”