Zach Shoff had never picked up a bowling ball until he joined the York Tech inaugural bowling team as a freshman in 2008.
Shoff quickly developed a love for the game, even though he only averaged 120. He worked tirelessly, however, on learning the fundamentals and improving his game. He competed all four years for the Spartans and averaged close to 200 by the time he graduated.
Today, the 22-year-old right-hander is completing his second year as head coach of the Spartans' bowling team, which competes on a club basis. Although bowling is a PIAA sport, York County does not have a scholastic bowling league.
The youthful Shoff wants to share his experience with team members with the hope they will travel a similar road he did.
“If I hadn’t attended York Tech, I would never have bowled,” he said. “I enjoy teaching the kids the fundamentals and watching them fall in love with the sport.”
Team members have a wide range of ability and experience. Some, such as Shoff, had never bowled before.
“I emphasize that bowling is a sport for everyone,” said Shoff. “It doesn’t matter what size you are, and it’s never too late to learn the game.”
As a club sport, the Spartans' bowling team rolls exhibition games against neighboring scholastic teams such as Columbia, Elizabethtown, Lancaster McCaskey and Cumberland Valley. The team rolls its home matches at Suburban Bowlerama.
“We take matches whenever we can get them,” Shoff said.
Typically, the team has eight to 15 matches from mid-November through mid-February.
Tech has 15 bowlers. Five compete in the varsity match and five in the junior varsity match. Bowlers for individual matches are selected on a combination of factors, including ability, attitude, attendance and improvement, Shoff said.
Bowling is one of the fastest-growing high school sports in the country and Shoff would like to see York County establish a scholastic league such as Lancaster-Lebanon and Berks counties.
“We’ve had great interest in the bowling team since it was formed in 2008,” he said. “And, I think other schools would have similar experiences. It’s too bad York County doesn’t have a scholastic league, because it’s really a sport for all kids. The fact it’s a lifetime sport is a plus, too.”
The PIAA State Championship team and individual tournaments will be held at North Versailles Bowl in Pittsburgh, Friday, March 18, and Saturday, March 19.
Shoff hopes that someday York Tech and other York County schools will have an opportunity to compete for a state bowling title.