The spirit of the game

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

The original title for this piece was going to be “Abbey led the cheers.”

It would have been a reflection how moments after Abbey Ambroza’s bowling was done for the day she hurried down the lanes to root for her friends from Wapakoneta. That would lead to a conversation of how she took some of the pressure off of Tanner Schroeder as he led the Lady Redskins cheering section.

Somehow it was much more than that.

I have always contended that bar none my favorite high school bowler of all time is Brian Garman. The respect that I have had for him has been essentially unchallenged. The fact that we have had bowlers before and since that have outscored Brian did not matter. It was his intense, “we will not lose attitude,” and his ability to recover from adversity that always impressed me.

This past season and more notably this past weekend Abbey became my second face on the Mount Rushmore of high school bowling for our area. Much like the case of Garman, there are those that can tell me to look at the stats, that there are other bowlers who have put up better scores this season and of course this past weekend. The fact is that really does not matter a great deal in my assessment. The facts are she is on the way to Rushmore for how much she embraces the spirit of the game. If the OHSAA ever does a logo it should be her silhouette that is used.

We have already mentioned her cheerleading for her friends from Wapak but there were two additional moments that really grabbed my attention from Saturday. The first was when another very special young lady, Madison Doseck of Wapak, strolled down to check to the south end of the house to check in with her friend who was standing near her starting lanes. Abbey shared that she was half afraid that she may fall on her face when she went to release the ball. The two of them tested the approaches together, hugged it out like the softball sisters that they are and all was well. Obviously this speaks a lot about Madison but when you consider individuals are so naturally drawn to the personality of Abbey, it also says a lot about each of them.

The second time on Saturday was following the announcement of the All-Ohio team. Once again it was the character of Abbey, genetically passed to her perhaps from two great parents Eric and Shelley as well as her brother Drew. She did not leave that podium without acknowledging the skill set of everybody there with her.

Outtakes from The OHSAA tournaments:

One of my favorite conversations from any of the events was with Scott Ross, the coach of the St Marys Roughriders.

We chatted largely about the efforts of his team in Columbus. He was clearly proud of the effort. In some cases it can be argued that when it comes to competing that it is a mix of luck, effort and execution that leads to titles and championships. Scott felt that the effort was clearly there –‘the kids gave it everything that they could’ – ‘they kept grinding to the end’ – but it was simply not enough on Friday afternoon.

Then he made a statement that reminded me of what you might here in an NBA telecast when coaches discuss the ‘runs’ that teams make of scoring points in a basketball game especially if they were not able to respond to the run.

“We just did not have a period of 45 minutes or so where everything that we threw resulted in more pins falling. Other teams did and that was the big difference on the day.” It was a very insightful statement by a two time D2 Champion coach.

It was great to see Britni Hosterman once again this time flanked by her sister Carlee. She, actually both have always been favorites of mine. I actually had the chance to see her last week when she game by the table of Bubba and BEV Brannan and showed her love to the Brannan clan. Yes I know Bev not Deb.

Britni has always been inches from her own Rushmore bust. The way she hoisted the Wapak team on her shoulders during their state run a couple of years or so back continues to be one of my favorite memories of any high school performer not named Garman or Ambroza. She did not permit the team to fold during their run at a state title.

What the heck – lets go with two Rushmores, one for young men and one for young women. Hosterman and Ambroza or Ambroza and Hosterman have the first two slots on the young ladies edition.

McKenzie Wagner left a lasting memory as well. It was Hosterman like in that she if nothing else was going to well her team to a title. Clearly she and her teammates left it all on the lanes in the semi-final battle with Fairborn. She will be missed but Wapak will rise again.

Continuing in the baker format of bowling each bowler on the team gets two frames. If I were to give an MVP to one of the Lady Redskins it would have been Bailey Van Meter, the daughter of Brian and Becca. Her first nine efforts on the day were all strikes. She ended the day with a strike percentage nearing 90% in the baker round of eight. She is a freshman and will only get better.

Saturday was a great day for the WBL. When the day started they had seven chances to reach the podium by the completion of play. They earned four of those podium visits. Wapak made it to the round of 8, which is always a team goal as well as into the semi-final round. In addition, Wagner, Ambroza and Doseck received individual honors.

Finally it was revealed during the tournament that Roxanne Price who has been the face and the heart of OHSAA bowling since its inception and overseen her final bowling tournament. She has always been a key person for the OHSAA when it comes to compliance issues and Jerry Snodgrass has determined that compliance people will do compliance and athletic events will be handled by tournament savvy individuals.

The humble Price shared that it is a lateral move so why do I feel that high school sports will be better for it. She is (if you can excuse the pun) simply Roxanne because all of us who have had the opportunity to be around her know that she is Price-less. We will miss her but the OHSAA just got stronger.

Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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