As has been a trend for the past seven years, the Catholic Youth Organization of Brooklyn and Queens continues to expand so that more children in the diocese have the opportunity to play sports.
The organization’s newest sport is bowling — a game that relies on an individual’s performance within the context of a team.
The idea to start a bowling league originated with CYO director Rob Caldera — an avid bowler himself — when he took over the organization in 2013. Interest ramped up over the past few years and came to fruition this past September.
At a meeting of all the parish athletic representatives (PARs) of the diocese, Sacred Heart, Glendale, PAR John Hickey brought up the idea again to start bowling. He said he knew a bowling coach who helped his son improve his game.
That coach is Arthur O’Connor, a certified bowling coach who works with the U.S. Bowling Congress. He’s organized youth groups and leagues in New York City and beyond, and so he was the perfect choice to become the CYO’s new bowling coordinator.
During an initial sign-up phase in October, more than 30 boys and girls from ages 7 through 15 registered as bowlers. The kids enjoyed four free weeks of bowling instruction from O’Connor, who was able to evaluate the skill level of the kids in order to form eight fairly balanced teams.
The season got underway on Nov. 7 at Jib Lanes in Flushing. In total, 10 parishes are represented in the new league: St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Jamaica; Holy Family, Flushing; Our Lady of Hope, Middle Village; Holy Child Jesus, Richmond Hill; Sacred Heart, Glendale; St. Luke, Whitestone; Incarnation, Queens Village; St. Margaret, Middle Village; St. Adalbert, Elmhurst; and St. Gregory the Great, Bellerose.
What’s great about the league is that children from different parishes have been grouped together as teammates. Some of the children have never played CYO sports before, and the organization is happy to welcome them to the family.
Caldera attended one of the bowling events recently and immediately saw that this new sport fit in with the Catholic values that he and his staff preach.
“Talk about kids having fun,” he said. “There were lots of smiles, and the parents were watching and having a great time. And Arthur was running all over coaching the kids. He’s doing a phenomenal job.”
Unlike traditional team sports, bowling is more geared toward an individual competitor. For the CYO, however, bowlers compete as members of a team, and so participating in the sport is a means to foster responsibility and accountability.
“Bowling is an interesting sport,”Caldera said. “There’s a lot of individual aspects to it, but it still has the concept of a team.
“You could be having a bad game in bowling on a given night. Even though one bowler is having a bad game, it could be that last ball you throw that helps your team win.”
Those skills will undoubtedly come in handy as these children play other CYO sports.
“It really teaches you how to remain calm and focused,” Caldera said. “You really can’t change what’s behind you. That’s why bowling is a 10-frame game.”
O’Connor is already working with bowling alleys in Astoria and Mill Basin to talk about plans to expand the CYO program next year. Diocesan championships for the current session will be held in February, and then a second session is set to begin soon after that.
Step-by-step — or even pin-by-pin — Caldera’s vision of getting as many diocesan children as possible involved with the CYO sports program is continuing to take shape.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.