By Jon Gagnon
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Early in the season, Peter Wozniak was seriously contemplating quitting the sport he had played non-stop for nearly three years: bowling.
Then he remembered the recent passing of his grandfather, Ted Wozniak.
“I knew he would have been really upset if I quit,” Wozniak said. “So I stuck with it and I think I ended up pretty good.”
Wozniak, a senior at North Tonawanda, lost some of his confidence early this season after a slow start, but he bounced back in the second half and finished the regular season fifth in the Niagara Frontier League with a 213.02 average.
Next up for Wozniak is sectionals — a tournament he’ll compete in for the third-straight season. He was the only NFL bowler to qualify for states his sophomore year.
In his junior season, Wozniak bowled a school-record 825 series but he struggled late in the season and failed to make it back to states. So he went back to working at his craft, on the lanes of the Tonawanda Bowing Center that he knew all too well from his childhood. Where he learned the game from his grandfathers.
Wozniak watched Ted Wozniak bowl when he was younger and, over time, embraced the love his grandfather had for the sport.
“He’s one of the main reasons I still bowl today,” Wozniak said. “He always loved the sport and he was so enthusiastic about it. Every day (I think about him out on the lanes). That’s why I like it so much right now.”
Bowling has always been a part of the Wozniak family. Wozniak’s father, grandfathers and uncles all bowl. So when Wozniak decided to pick up a sport when he was 10 years old, there was no question what it would be.
He learned a lot from watching his late grandfather bowl, but it was another member of the family that had the most prevalent influence on him: his grandmother’s boyfriend of 10 years, Bruce Webb.
Even Bill Rohring, Wozniak’s current coach, acknowledged Webb’s impact on him.
“His number one coach is his grandfather Bruce,” Rohring said. “He’s an old-time bowler and whenever Peter bowls he goes and watches him and gives him advice. He’s definitely his go-to guy.”
Webb has been with him every step of the way — as has the rest of Wozniak family — since he started bowling seven years ago. He shows Wozniak tips and tricks and is present at every match.
“Everything I need, he gives great advice and he’s been to every single match,” Wozniak said. “It’s been great. Bruce has just always been there, been interested in it.”
Webb has felt the same way. He and Wozniak’s grandmother don’t just go to every match for support, but they enjoy attending the matches.
“Anything that we can do to help him with his bowling, we’ve been happy to do it,” Webb said. “I get a lot of enjoyment out of it, not only just with Peter but I enjoy watching these kids develop over the years. It’s a progression over the years, they grow along with the game.”
Webb can’t wait to watch Wozniak bowl in sectionals today, he’s already cleared his schedule.
“I wouldn’t miss it,” he said. “I already told my boss that I will not be in on Friday.”Contact the Tonawanda News sports desk at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find us on Twitter @tonanewssports.