Newfield’s Hannah Skalacki owns the best girls bowling average on Long Island entering the new season, but that is not all. She does it as a lefthanded bowler, a rare occurrence on the lanes.
The reigning Newsday Girls Bowler of the Year first picked up a bowling ball at age five, and she started by bowling with either hand. That was when her older sister and Middle Country bowling alum, Kelly, told her to bowl from the left side.
“It was pretty much right away, because she said being a lefty is a lot more rare, and there aren’t a lot of lefties out there,” Hannah Skalacki said. “I had trouble doing it, but I just kept practicing and it just stuck with me. Right now, I can’t bowl anything with my right hand, everything with bowling is my left hand.”
There is more bowling history in the family. Her brother, Matt, also bowled in high school. Her father, Brendan, attends practices when not working, on the weekends, and when his youngest daughter bowls in other leagues.
“It’s a lot of pressure because I’m the last Skalacki,” she said.
Skalacki is rarely away from the lanes. She participates in a Friday night doubles league for college scholarships, with her friend, Patchogue-Medford’s Canan Bademci.
Skalacki, who averaged 223.37 last year, will help Middle Country, the combined team of Newfield and Centereach, try and defend its first state championship since 2013. In the state tournament, Skalacki rolled an 1,163 six-game series, the second highest of anyone from the nine-team field.
And she learned a valuable lesson in Syracuse.
“It was just to stay positive and always keep your team in a good mood and pumped up,” she said.
Entering her fourth year on varsity, Skalacki has done just that.
Amanda Scarfogliero, who has been Skalacki’s teammate for the last four years, emphasized her value.
“She’s always been a great bowler,” Scarfogliero said. “She’s always shown up when she’s had to. She’s always built the team up. The sport is mostly mental. You have to know the lanes, and know how to work with the lanes. People always get upset, but Hannah always knows how to show up when she is upset. She can always bring it, even if there are issues with the lanes or patterns.”
Skalacki has her sights set on another state title run, but she knows it won’t be easy. East Islip, which features seniors Julia Bocamazo, Jenny Murphy and Julianna Spina likely will prove a tough competitor.
New Middle Country head coach Jamie Santiago said Skalacki, a sophomore, has a competitiveness to admire.
“Hannah has been amazing since I took over,” Santiago said. “What makes her so great is she is a terrific athlete. You can tell that she always wants to be her best, and that’s what I admire about her. She always wants to beat her high score and average no matter what. She’s never satisfied. And she just wants to get better very practice.”