It’s quite remarkable to think how much West Babylon’s Nicholas Giovanniello has improved in just two seasons of bowling.
Giovanniello, who struggled to throw a bowling ball with one hand, switched to a two-handed technique and had a 170 average as a freshman.
The 15-year-old practiced countless hours this spring, summer and fall, bowling 3-to-6 games, five days a week, mostly at Babylon Lanes in West Babylon.
The hard work has certainly paid off for Giovanniello and the Eagles. The West Babylon sophomore has a 211 average — some 41 pins better than last season — and bowled a pair of 300 games in December. He rolled a 727 series, which is tied for 13th among Suffolk bowlers, and he leads the county with 21 match points. For his efforts, Giovanniello is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
“I wasn’t counting on him to put up the numbers he has,” West Babylon coach Frank Riviezzo said. “I was hoping he’d go up to a 185 [average] or so, but for him to improve like he has in this time frame is outstanding.”
To fully appreciate Giovanniello’s improvement, one has to go back a few years. Giovanniello had played CYO basketball at Our Lady of Grace in West Babylon for two seasons, but he “just started losing interest” in the sport. His cousin, Michael, suggested he give bowling a try.
Giovanniello started bowling in a league three weeks before West Babylon’s tryouts. Giovanniello had trouble throwing the ball righthanded, so two weeks after he made the team, he utilized a two-handed approach like professionals Osku Palermaa and Jason Belmonte, the latter which he watched numerous hours of YouTube videos.
He also had teammate Peter Ramos, one of the top bowlers in Suffolk, to lean on. Ramos, who is fourth in Suffolk this season with a 227 average, also bowls with two hands.
“He definitely loves the sport,” said Ramos of Giovanniello. “All he wants to do is improve himself and get better and better.”
Giovanniello started this season slow with just one score above a 202 in his first eight games. But the 5-6, 120-pounder rolled his first-ever 300 in a win against West Islip on Dec. 8. He added another 300 against Islip on Dec. 22 for West Babylon (7-1) which is currently in first place in Suffolk I.
“Nick has ice in his veins. He doesn’t get rattled,” Riviezzo said. “When you step up with a chance for a 300, and there are a ton of people watching, I’d be squeezing the ball tight. But he embraces the moment. You’re either born with that, or you’re not.”
Evidently, Giovanniello has the unique gift to relax in pressure-filled moments.
“The tenth frame is where it gets more interesting because you get a little more nervous thinking about it,” Giovanniello said. “You just have to stay calm and throw your shot.”
And keep improving every day.