HS bowling: McKee/S.I. Tech boys’ coach Richie Maniaci keeps rolling, set to start 43rd season – SILive.com

Rich Maniaci is about to begin his 43rd season as coach of the McKee/Staten Island Tech boys' bowling squad. (Staten Island Advance)
McKee/Staten Island Tech boys’ bowling coach Richie Maniaci told a reporter “you are making me feel really old” when the scribe asked him what year this was for him coaching bowling.
The 72-year-old paused for a moment and gave his answer. “Forty-three years and I’ve enjoyed every second of it.”
And if you know Maniaci you know he’s not blowing smoke. He truly loves coaching kids.
While the high school girls’ season gets rolling Monday (today), the boys don’t start until Tuesday. And already the pandemic has gotten in the way.
The Sea Gulls’ match against New Dorp on Tuesday has been postponed because the Central Cougars only had seven players on the roster in a sport where you must start with eight. New Dorp has since added players, but now doesn’t have enough official practices to start the season.
Part of the problem stems from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandate that all public school athletes in high-risk sports and indoor sports must be vaccinated.
To boot, Maniaci said high school bowlers will have to wear face masks while competing on the lanes this season.
Parents are not allowed in the centers to watch their kids, although Maniaci said he won’t be a policeman and keep folks out.
“I’ve been telling parents to come to the center for 40 years. Now I’m going to tell them not to show up?” asked Maniaci. “I won’t do that. Plus, Country Lanes has a person checking for Vax cards at the door so it should be fine.”
The Staten Island Bowling Hall of Famer and the Advance’s 2016 Service Award winner, retired from teaching a decade ago, but can’t help but notice the changing dynamic in the sport.
“The big change has been the decline in bowling. I mean we’re down to two bowling alleys right now,” he said. “When I first came on, I won’t count, but I think we had 10 centers. There was more interest in bowling. As far as the game itself, the technology has changed the way the balls are made. It makes it a lot easier to score well. It used to be like if you had one or two 300 games a year that was a lot. Now it happens weekly, right?”
Another change is that Maniaci used to get 2-3 kids that would come out for his team each year that had bowled in juniors before. Now, he doesn’t see that as much.
“It makes me work harder as a coach, but that’s OK,” he said. “Now the kids with no prior bowling experience are emailing me and asking me what do they have to do to get on the team. They want to be on the team to look good for their college transcripts, to say they competed on a varsity team.”
Maniaci, who has one PSAL city crown to his credit in 2013 and a handful of runner-up finishes, including his most recent in 2018, still see some hope for the sport.
“I mean the kids love it on Staten Island,” said Maniaci. “It’s special. In fact, when I mentioned about the parents coming to the alleys, the bowling commissioner kind of laughed and said, ‘oh, that’s a Staten Island issue.’ So it shows me how unique we are.”
It hasn’t hurt, too, that an Island team in the both girls and boys’ divisions have won city crowns as far back as anyone can remember. That’s decades of success and it will probably be the same this year, too.
“There’s been a lot of changes, but you know, to me, the good change is that this year we actually have some coaches who know bowling. Timmy McAuliffe (who comes from one of the Island’s most known bowling clans) is at Susan Wagner and Mickey Endress (a former Tottenville standout) took over at Port Richmond and the new Tottenville coach, I think is a bowler himself.”
Maniaci hinted that two-time defending champion Susan Wagner would be the team to beat this season as every Falcon returns except for two players.
Tottenville is always good and MSIT should be in the hunt.
On the girls’ side, New Dorp, coached by Alyssa Wilday-Bruno, has won four straight PSAL city crowns and should be in the favorite to win it all again.
The Central Cougars open the season today vs. MSIT. Three other matches have been postponed.
Attention bowling coaches: We want to hear from you when your matches are over. The winning coaches should send their results (the team you played and where the match took place, the final score with A, B and C series and any high games by individuals) to Advance sportswriter Nick Regina at [email protected] Please include your team’s record, too. The results will be published on the web and in newspaper.
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