The Spartans Have Captured Lightning, and the League’s Been Struck
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The fall season was highly successful for Stuyvesant sports teams, producing four undefeated teams. Of these, the boys’ bowling team, the Spartans, managed to stand out with their electric season. Considering the team changed coaches, faced logistical issues that hindered some players, and commuted over an hour for every game, expecting a perfect run from the Spartans seemed outlandish. However, the Spartans used these shortcomings as fuel, creating a season characterized by incredible camaraderie, hours of dedication, and powerful bowling. They turned these qualities into an impressive season capped by an unblemished record and two valiant playoff performances.
The Spartans’ undefeated season was by no means easy to achieve. They switched coaches this year to Lance Tomas, a teacher in his second year at Stuyvesant. At first, there was considerable doubt surrounding the change, but Tomas was crucial to the Spartans’ success this year. “Mr. Tomas is an experienced bowler and I believe our success this season is accredited to him,” senior and co-captain Gil Zheng said. “Tomas knows the needs of the team and is able to provide us with those necessities.”
Tomas’s ability to support the team was definitely needed, as the Spartans had to commute over an hour from Stuyvesant for every game and practice. Their home alley is 360Bowl Astoria, which as the name suggests, is in Astoria, Queens. “Even if students missed a 10th period class, we were almost always in danger of forfeiting a match due to lateness,” Tomas said. The Spartans were thankful for their coach, however, who was a responsible and proud leader of the team.
Furthermore, the Spartans had to deal with the loss of some of their best bowlers. Senior Shafiel Towhid, who has been on the team for the past three years, was unable to play this season. On top of that, senior and co-captain Akram Khalifa was logistically unable to play in a few of the Spartans’ crucial games, including the final playoff game. However, the Spartans were able to defy the odds and unite to fill the gaps left by these crucial absences. “Our first game was against Hunter, the only school we lost to last season, and without Shafiel and Akram, our top bowlers, for this game, our chances of winning were really slim. The games came out to be super close. When we won the tie-breaker C game, I realized we didn't need our best bowlers for us to win,” Zheng said. Since a majority of the team is comprised of seniors who have been bowling together for years, the Spartans have cultivated a tangible community, allowing for any given member to pick up the slack. They’ve put in many hours of practice over the past few years, becoming a cohesive machine of a team. “It has become routine for me to wake up every Saturday and head to the lanes where the rest of the team will usually show up and continue to work on our skills. I believe the bowling team has become a close-knitted friend group that each of us can rely upon,” Zheng said.
The Spartans’ vigilance and optimism through the season’s turbulence is commendable. A team that has to travel for over an hour and is expected to arrive ready to play is not often a team that plays well. However, not only did the Spartans play well, they crafted an untouchable season in the competitive Manhattan I league. “Everyone chipped in so much effort to tip the season into our favor. The passion we had to win playoffs this season was unrivaled; I don’t think a team wanted it more than us,” Khalifa said.
This bowling fervor pervaded every moment of the Spartans’ performance this season. They completed impressive comeback victories over second-place Hunter College and a dominant sweep of Graphics Campus three games to zero in the first round of the playoffs. “Going undefeated is a testament to the dedication of the bowlers. Our only loss of the season was in the playoffs against a much higher ranked team. We had to travel deep into Brooklyn […] and lost by a total of six pins, all in the final frame. I can’t be prouder with how this team performed this year,” Tomas said. The Spartans managed to consistently overcome unfavorable conditions and go far beyond their own expectations, a monument to the commitment and community of their team.