Cameron Lewis approached lane four at Maple Lanes in Rockville Center and released his 15-pound purple bowling ball.
The velocity of his roll carried the ball across the head pin and leveled all 10 pins – strike. The Malverne senior accepted a few high fives from teammates.
“Well, that one felt pretty good,” said Lewis, who also plays football and lacrosse and wants to study pharmacy in college. “I thought bowling would be easy and it was all just for fun. But I was wrong, it can be frustrating, and you need to constantly practice and work at it.”
Lewis, an outstanding 5-8, 150-pound athlete, was recruited by Malverne boys bowling coach Andrew Biscardi to give the sport a shot. He is one reason why the Malverne boys bowling team is making its first playoff appearance in the program's 55-year history.
“We’re building the program in Malverne,” said Biscardi, the seventh-year coach who teaches special education at Malverne's Howard T. Herber Middle School. “And I ask all the kids to try out. Why not? We see so much improvement from the first day they come into the bowling alley.”
Lewis averaged 123 as a junior and is currently sporting a 159.2 average.
“He’s a natural athlete and very competitive,” Biscardi said.
Malverne qualified for the Nassau County team bowling championships this weekend at AMC Garden City Lanes. They know it’ll be tough to place in the county tournament, but the climb must start somewhere. And this is a big step.
"There’s a different mindset around the bowling program these days. Gone is the ‘let’s just have fun' mindset, Biscardi said.
The starting lineup is led by top scorer Gavin Huertas. The junior three-sport athlete is averaging 176 and his goal is to become an All-Nassau bowler in his senior year.
“We’ve done something special for the school,” said Huertas, who also plays baseball and volleyball. “We’re the first Malverne team to qualify for the county playoffs and that’s something I’m proud of.”
Junior Gennaro Izzo (165), senior Javier Fuentes (162.3), junior John Karam (155), and junior Jalen Miles-Bethea (135) round out the six-man starting lineup for the Mules.
Fuentes, who plays soccer and kicks for the football team, said this historical season would not have been possible without the coaching staff.
“Our coaches are so generous,” Fuentes said. “We have some guys that can’t afford balls, bags or even bowling shoes. They get it all donated or buy it for us. They make it all possible.”
Biscardi’s father, former professional bowler Joe Biscardi, has been a key cog in the program’s rise.
“He owned a pro shop and has a lot of connections in the bowling community,” Andrew Biscardi said. “He helps plug the balls and fit the bowlers for about 20 student-athletes each year.”
Over on lane six, the elder Biscardi was working on technique with a few of the boys at Wednesday’s practice.
“I used to give lessons and love helping the kids, they’re so appreciative,” said Joe Biscardi, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Long Island United States Bowling Congress Association in 2005. “They really have no balls or shoes when they come to our tryouts. We outfit and work with them. We’ve seen dramatic improvement in a short period of time.”
Fuentes averaged 121 his junior year and is currently holding a 162.3 average.
“Getting better comes with practice,” Andrew Biscardi said. “Our girls bowling coach, Nicola Alleva, is down here working with the boys – everyone is chipping in.”
Andrew Biscardi said the owners at Maple Lanes, Wantagh Lanes and South Levittown Lanes have donated balls and equipment to the team.
“They’re very generous people,” he said. “We’re blessed in Malverne.”