Amanda Naujokas could have never imagined that her illustrious high school bowling career would finish the way it did, but through disappointment came a silver lining.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association canceled winter state tournaments on March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic, subsequently ending her senior season.
“Obviously, I was upset because I wanted to finish my final season upstate, but it was important to keep everybody safe,” said Naujokas, who earned a spot on the Suffolk girls bowling state all-star team for a fifth consecutive year. “I’m truly grateful to have had the state championship experience over the last few years.”
Three weeks prior to the scheduled championships, Naujokas received a phone call from Melissa McDaniel, the chairman of the International Bowling Campus Youth Committee.
McDaniel informed Naujokas during a practice for the state tournament on Feb. 22 that she would be receiving the Earl Anthony Memorial scholarship. The $5,000 scholarship is named after hall of fame bowler Earl Anthony and is awarded annually in recognition of a bowler’s academic achievements and contributions made to his or her community.
“I applied in December and knew there were a lot of qualified candidates, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Naujokas said. "I was speechless when I got the call. It was a huge accomplishment knowing that only five bowlers [boys and girls] could receive the scholarship and I was one of them.”
The official announcement came in a press release by the United States Bowling Congress on Mar. 26.
Applications were submitted by individual bowlers throughout the country and looked over by the USBC Youth Development team to make sure the applicant met the requirements, which included being a USBC youth member and a high school senior with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
From there, they were sent to the IBC Youth Committee for the selection process.
Naujokas is a member of the National Honor Society, Foreign Language Honor Society and Business and Marketing Honor Society. She also has a 4.0 GPA, over 200 hours of community service and is currently a member of the junior Team USA U17 developmental team.
During her high school tenure, Naujokas propelled Sachem North to a county title in 2015 as a seventh-grader with a county championship-best 227 average.
“Winning that championship is something I’ll remember forever,” Naujokas said. “I think it was one of my greatest accomplishments as member of the Sachem bowling team.”
She guided the Suffolk all-stars to a second-place finish in the state tournament the following year, accounting for a competition-best 208.7 average, helped Suffolk win a state title in 2018 and was selected to Newsday’s All-Long Island team four times.
Her laundry list of accolades caught the attention of John Williamson, Vanderbilt’s women’s bowling coach. She was presented with a bowling scholarship during her official visit to the school in September 2019 and committed on the spot.
“I spoke with Vanderbilt for about a year-and-a-half and it had always been one of my top schools because of its great academics and phenomenal bowling program,” Naujokas said. “The fact that I now have two scholarships is amazing and it’s going to make college more affordable. It’s truly a dream come true.”