Coach’s Corner – Mr. Wilke

Bowling is undeservingly the most underrated winter sport here at Wayne Valley. While not as popular as basketball typically is, both the girl’s and boy’s bowling teams bring home just as many or sometimes more titles each year. Coach Wilke, an algebra and geometry teacher, has been a part of the Wayne Valley program for over 20 years. Our girl’s team is significantly younger as its first season was just nine years ago. The boys finished the 2020-2021 season with an impressive record of 9-5 and the girls with a finish of 2-12. Coach Wilke credits the players for being “very dedicated over the years,” adding to his love of coaching the bowling programs. 

The bowling season was pushed back about a month due to COVID-19. The NJSIAA previously set up new guidelines for the season in order to protect players and coaching staff. Players had the option to opt-out for safety reasons, and just about half of the roster chose to do so this year.  In terms of recruiting, Coach Wilke states that “[the pandemic] hindered the ability to reach out to students who might be interested in bowling to ‘recruit’ them.” 

When crafting the varsity rosters for both the boys and girls squads, Coach Wilke contemplates the players’ average scores and consistency. As stated by members of the girl’s team, Bowling is a sport that “improves your hand-eye coordination, concentration, and tactical strategy.”

The girl’s team captains include Cristina Reitmeyer, Kendra Aragona, and Faith Amero. The boy’s team captains: Jarrett D’Alessandro, Ryan Tomback, and Justin Sonnett lead their squads. While the girl’s team has a different head coach, they remarked that Coach Wilke “makes sure that everyone feels included [and] gives pointers to everyone to help them improve.” Most notably, “[Coach Wilke] makes sure that everyone leaves with a smile on their face!” 

Senior Captain Jarret D’Alessandro elaborates on why Coach Wilke is the best fit for the Wayne Valley Bowling Program. He explains, “Bowling is not something that you can be instantly good at like many other sports, and Mr. Wilke breaks it down for you and provides as many suggestions as he can to improve the game for you. He is also not the type of coach that will scold you or be annoyed if anything goes wrong; he understands that the majority of the kids that bowl for him do not have many years of experience. The team is really special because you can play the sport without a lot of stress, especially this year. Being part of the team also allows you to make friends and meet people you may not have gotten the chance to before.”

Be sure to check out the WV boys bowling match highlights against Wayne Hills on the Wayne Valley Television YouTube page! As for those interested in playing next season Coach Wilke emphasizes that “bowling is the perfect opportunity for students that are concerned that speed, size, and strength are limitations for them in another sport. It is a ‘lifetime’ sport that provides a good bonding experience for both family and friends from kids to senior citizens.”