STRATFORD–Somewhere, Todd Stolze was smiling.
The former Stratford High School teacher, and Red Devils bowling coach, had a bird’s eye view last weekend as one of his former pupils placed fifth at the SWC girls bowling championships at the Nutmeg Bowl in Fairfield.
Red Devils senior Missy Uhrynowski fired a three-game total of 366 to place one pin short of fourth in the league championships.
“I just wanted to do well and at least place,” Uhrynowski said. “I think I was looking at sixth place, so I was happy to finish above that goal.”
Uhrynowski knew her former coach would have been proud of her.
Stolze got sick during Uhrynowski’s sophomore season at Stratford. He passed away on November 12, 2017.
Before he passed away, though, Stolze told Uhrynowski been that she would be a captain her junior year—a title she still holds as a senior.
“Yeah, he meant a lot to me,” Uhrynowski said, her voice still catching with emotion. “He always pushed me in everything I did. Not just bowling, but about doing good in school. Everything in my life, he had an impact on me.”
Bowling is just one of the ways Uhrynowski tries to give back to Stratford High.
Current Stratford coach Gary Sherrick summed up what Uhrynowski means to the Red Devils bowling squad.
“She means pretty much everything,” Sherrick said. “She puts the time in and she had a good day. She’s the heart and backbone, there’s no question about that.”
Uhrynowski started bowling as a freshman, looking to do a second sport in the winter to take up time before the softball season.
“I just decided to do it,” she said. “I wasn’t that good. But I worked up to varsity by the end of my freshman year.”
She stayed on varsity for the rest of her career.
The state of Connecticut does have some high school bowling powerhouses, but at Stratford, the Red Devils take a different approach.
There are three teams within the program—varsity, JV and JV2.
“Bowling, for us, is about having fun,” Sherrick said. “It’s just kids having fun and hanging out together, but some of them can bowl.”
Uhrynowski is one of them, but she’s not the only one.
She is joined on the co-ed varsity team by Anthony Wilcoxson, Alex Zabeneh, Helen Lefever and Taylor Lubas. Wilcoxson rolled a 410 at SWCs, including a high match of 157. Zabeneh added a 154 en route to a 378.
Those are the five that represented SHS at the SWC championships.
This weekend, they head off to the Connecticut State Championships, where each bowler gets only two frames to put together their part of the team score.
It is that aspect of the tournament that Uhrynowski finds special.
“You really have to work as a team and I like that,” she said. “It’s more about the team than the individual.”
In the future, Uhrynowski will head off to college where she plans on majoring in sports management.
As an infielder for the Stratford softball team, she has one more season to play.
Rest assured, though, as she leaves Stratford High she will never forget her four-year career as a member of the Red Devils bowling squad.
And for that Todd Stolze is undoubtedly proud, as well.
“On The Sidelines” is a recurring feature column written by Stratford Sports Scene managing editor John Nash