Saber varsity team is on a roll

It might be the best-kept sports secret at Souhegan High School. And co-captain Jen McNally wished more people got the message.

“A lot of people don’t know we actually have a (varsity) bowling team,” said McNally, who shares the Sabers’ captaincy with senior classmate Taylor Rendall. “At first when you tell them, they’re surprised. A lot of kids open to the idea, when they actually learn about it.”

Ten-pin or “big-ball” bowling has been a varsity sport sanctioned by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association since 2011. It differs from the New England-centric candlepin (“small ball”) bowling dramatically. Still, there is no loud music, fluorescent pins and strobe lighting. It’s serious business.

Currently, the Souhegan team is up to 10 players, with nine girls and one boy (Zach Dean), and McNally is always on the lookout for more.

“I just got someone to join last week,” she said. “A lot of people just don’t know we actually have a bowling team.”

The Sabers’ team is a bit of a commitment. The team practices Tuesday and Friday afternoons, with matches on Saturdays. They travel from the Seacoast to out to Keene for matches, playing at home in the Merrimack Ten-Pin lanes.

The competition can be fierce at times, but McNally, who also plays tennis for the Sabers, it’s extremely friendly between the schools.

“The teams, even though they are competing with each other, are very supportive,” she said. “You’re always cheering when someone makes a good shot or giving the other team high-fives.”

With a healthy 159 average, Taylor Rendall leads the Sabers. Her sister, McKenzie is next at 132, while McNally is third at 120.

Other team members are Meghan Hanks, Julianna Torres, Carrie Speer, Jenna Speer, Emma Maurais and Annalise Poisson.

All the teams are coed.

“Most of the other teams are pretty much dominated by boys,” said McNally. “So people tend to underestimate us.”

The team provides an amazing social outlet as well.

“We definitely all hang out together, we went to Chilis together the other night,” joked McNally. “The team pretty much spends every Friday hanging out at my house during the season, too. They’re such great people.”

Ironically, bowling is an experience McNally nearly missed out on, one that she needed to be sold on as well.

“Taylor was the only freshman on the team, and she convinced me when I was a sophomore,” said McNally. “We needed more people, and she really wanted a friend to do it.

“I’m really happy I did. I really never played many sports growing up. But this is by far my favorite. The college I am most interesting in (Springfield) has it as a club sport. If I go there, I will definitely be part of it.”

“Most of the other teams are pretty much dominated by boys,” said McNally. “So people tend to underestimate us.”