TAMARAC —As the catcher for the state champion American Heritage School softball team, Ahnie Jumper knows a thing or two about catching strikes.
Now the Big Cypress teen is trying to throw strikes, not as a pitcher, but as a bowler.
Ahnie and her class of 2017 classmate Raini Cypress comprise two-fifths of American Heritage’s first-ever girls bowling team.
“They’re doing well,” said Heritage coach Patrick Quinn. “Ahnie is athletic. Raini came to us late. She’s been with us for about two weeks. Ahnie has been with us for about a month.”
American Heritage’s girls team features five players; the boys team, also in its inaugural season, has nine players. Nobody has a lot of experience in competitive bowling, but Quinn said they have excellent attitudes.
“They are dedicated. They practice a minimum of two times a week,” Quinn said. “The majority of our kids are beginner bowlers. I look forward to seeing a lot of development between now and October.”
Ahnie opted to pass on playing volleyball in her final fall at Heritage, but she wanted to stay active after school. Bowling has been an ideal fit.
“I usually bowl once a year. This is something a new,” she said.
Raini said a variety of reasons enticed her to join the team.
“This is totally new to me,” Raini said. “You don’t have to move a lot. You just have to get your form right. My boyfriend is on the [boys] team and I wanted to join a sport and this one required the least amount of physical activity.”
Heritage made a successful debut with a victory Sept. 13 at Sawgrass Lanes, home to all of the team’s matches.
“Of course, they were nervous,” Quinn said. “They’ve never been in this environment. We practice on our own, but practice and now being in a lane where you see all kids and all skill levels is a different environment. It was an eye-opener. Last week one girl [on an opposing team] bowled a perfect game, so they kind of got distracted by that and caught up in the moment.”
Heritage, whose roster also includes Jessica Kaufman, Natacha Morales and Mia Levine, faced Douglas High School on Sept. 20. Ahnie and Raini had strong starts as both notched spares in their first frames. High-fives from teammates greeted them upon their return to the table where players gather between their turns. Heritage and Douglas weren’t alone. High school girls and boys teams from throughout Broward County filled lanes 29-56, one-half of the facility.
In the fifth frame, Raini notched her lone strike on her way to a score of 81. Ahnie registered a strike in the sixth frame to go along with four spares. Her 141 score was first on Heritage and second overall in the match.
“They’ve picked up pretty well so far,” Quinn said. “As long as they stay consistent, they’ll do well by the end of the season.”