By ERIC KEPPELER
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Cassidy Powers first picked up a bowling ball when she was four years old. Her father got her into the sport, which was a staple for her extended family.
By the time she was 10, she had won her first scholarship tournament.
When she was 13, she beat her father and grandfather for the first time.
Now at 16, the North Tonawanda junior is one of the elder statesmen on the defending Niagara Frontier League champion girls Lady Jacks bowling team that boasts four first-year starters.
“I had to show them the ropes, show them the proper way to do some of the things,” Powers said. “But mostly I make sure we don’t get down — that’s a chain reaction, and once you start getting upset, you lose it fast.”
Powers and company remain stubbornly in the thick of the NFL title hunt at 8-3, behind Lockport at 9-1 and defending state champion Niagara Falls at 8-2.
Veteran coach Bill Rohring admitted to being slightly surprised that his team continues to challenge for the league title in spite of having been hit hard by graduation.
For the most part, Rohring says the team has gotten better as the season has progressed. The Lady Jacks have gained confidence and experience, and the coach says Powers has played a key role.
“She’s just that ideal bowler you want on your team,” Rohring said. “She’s very disciplined. She leads by example. You can’t crumble under pressure — you have to stay focused, and that keeps the other kids focused. She keeps her emotions under wraps.”
Powers has averaged a healthy 193.34 so far this season, good for seventh place overall among NFL ladies. She has a high game of 247 and a high series of 668.
While she leads the team in those statistical categories, Powers points to overall depth as the main reason for the team’s competitiveness.
NT has seen its share of star bowlers in recent years, Powers said, but this year’s squad might be the most balanced from top to bottom.
“We’ve got a lot of good bowlers,” Powers said. “I certainly don’t feel like I’m better than they are. Our team is very consistent, which is very important.”
Powers would love it if the team could move on to sectionals or states – but barring that, she also has an opportunity to qualify as an individual.
She came close to making sectionals last year and believes she has an even better shot at it this season.
“She has excellent fundamentals,” Rohring said. “She has a good approach and a good delivery. She’s a high honors student, and she’s also become a real student of the game. She works very hard at getting better.”
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