For three long seasons, Vinny Altman sat, watched and hoped for his chance to help the East Islip boys bowling team.
“I had to wait for my time,” Altman said. “I knew things would happen eventually.”
Altman is definitely making things happen this season for the Redmen. The senior captain rolled a 698 series as East Islip defeated Connetquot, 1,183-950, 1,110-1,012, 1,051-1,043 in a Suffolk II match at Sayville Lanes on Tuesday.
“He’s a first-time starter,” East Islip coach Bob Cheadle said about Altman. “That’s how tough it is to get into the lineup on our team.”
So when East Islip graduated a strong core of seniors from last season’s team, bowlers like Altman finally got their chance.
“It’s definitely exciting bowling for my team,” Altman said, “and putting up numbers that mean something.”
It’s not just Altman who’s putting up numbers that mean something — senior Justin Orobello added a 267 first game of a 696 series against Connetquot, and James Spina added a 254 first game of a 681 series for East Islip (10-1).
According to Cheadle, Altman is more than just a good bowler (Altman has a 216.9 average). He’s also a great leader for East Islip, which sits atop the Suffolk II standings.
“He brings a level of maturity, and he also has a way of getting people to relax,” said Cheadle, in his fifth season. “He is such a pleasant young man to talk to, when you’re around him, it’s impossible not to feel good.”
Young bowlers like freshman Sonny Pico (226 average in seven matches) and sophomore Aaron Rice (224 average in five matches) are the beneficiaries of Altman’s demeanor and advice. “When I see kids all worked up, I’ve been in the same position, and I know exactly how they feel,” Altman said. “I’ll say to them, ‘I’ve been there. Calm down and put your next shot in pocket.’ ”
The Redmen have a big match against the defending state champ, Sachem, at East Islip Lanes on Thursday, and then finish the regular season with matches against Patchogue-Medford and Sayville next week. However, East Islip’s sights are set on the Suffolk Boys Wild Card on Jan. 31 and the Suffolk championships on Feb. 4 at Sayville Lanes.
“We are always looking for the win,” Altman said. “That’s what East Islip does. We lost to Sachem [in the county finals last season], but we are ready to come back . . . Since day one, the big picture for us is winning the league, counties, and states.”
Winning and no more waiting. Sounds good to Altman.