NEW CITY – Despite coming from a family that includes a father and a grandfather in the Rockland County United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame, Kayla Dobrinski was never drawn to the sport of bowling at an early age.
Most of the time she spent in a bowling alley was as a spectator, usually watching her younger sister Megan bowl. Kayla Dobrinski preferred to play soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball— pretty much any sport other than bowling.
“I’d sit there every week (watching Megan) saying, ‘I’m bored, I’m hungry, I want to go home, I don’t want to do this,’ and (my father) was like, ‘That’s it, you’re going to be in a league, too,’ ” she said. “That’s kind of how I started bowling.”
Father knew best.
The Suffern senior averaged a county-best 194.32 during the season, behind only John Jay-East Fishkill’s Victoria Pacacha for tops in the section, and placed fifth at the Section 1 tournament in her sixth and final season with the Mounties. She leaves Suffern as the reigning Journal News Rockland girls bowler of the year.
“My cousin was bowler of the year, and now I’m bowler of the year — it feels so good when you accomplish it,” she said.
Life as a Dobrinski
Few student-athletes have the luxury of being able to get expert-level training and teaching at no cost, and at virtually any time or day of the week.
Dobrinski’s father and grandfather, both Stan, have become staples in the Rockland bowling community, and her cousin, Al Chamberlain, was a two-time Journal News bowler of the year at Suffern; but with the fortune of being born into bowling royalty, comes high expectations.
“There was a lot of pressure,” she said, “but I like having that pressure because I have something to work for.”
From her elders, to her sibling, to her cousins (Al’s two younger brothers Tommy and Wade still bowl for Suffern), there’s more than enough competition for Dobrinski to go up against in and out of varsity matches.
“We work to beat each other,” she said. “It drives me to do better.”
Dobrinski said that she and Tommy Chamberlain had a friendly battle for high game and high series this season. Chamberlain bested her in both during the regular season (266-259, 721-719), but Dobrinski got the last laugh, stringing together the first 10 strikes to open the Section 1 tournament before finishing with a 289 game.
“We’re all competitive,” she said. “Tommy is very competitive; my sister, a little less, but she still doesn’t like to lose.” Megan Dobrinski, a freshman, averaged 178 this season and finished 19th at sections.
Dobrinski will team up with Tappan Zee senior Gianna Avallone next year when they bowl for Molloy College on Long Island. Dobrinski plans to double major in criminal justice and psychology, with a focus on criminal profiling — a subject that piqued her interest through watching Criminal Minds and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Juggling a double major and Division II bowling career could be overwhelming for most freshman, but Dobrinski isn’t too concerned about the workload. “It’s going to be hard,” she admits, “but, bowling in middle school for a varsity team was difficult and I still got through it.”
The rest of the Journal News first team includes:
Nicole Cona, North Rockland: The freshman was one of the most consistent bowlers all season, finishing with the third-best average in the county (188.36), a fourth-place finish at sections, and a 24th place finish at states.
Katie Healy, Nanuet: The freshman posted the fifth-best average in the county (185.25) and just missed a top-10 finish at the Section 1 tournament, finishing 11th out of 66 bowlers.
Deanna Jones, North Rockland: The senior and anchor of the Red Raiders’ team took home the singles title at sections, averaging 214 for six games, and was the top local finisher at states, placing 19th overall.
Mercedes Morel, North Rockland: The sophomore had the second-highest average in the county (192.34) and flirted with perfection at the section tournament, rolling the front 10 in the third game of the tournament for a 288 game. Morel placed 21st at states.
Coach of the year
Joanie Nelson, North Rockland
Gianna Avallone, Tappan Zee, Sr.
Megan Dobrinski, Suffern, Fr.
Fiona McDermott, Clarkstown, Sr.
Caitlin Owens, Pearl River, Sr.
Isabella Palamero, North Rockland, 8th
Akira Deloatch, North Rockland, Fr.; Shannon Murray, Clarkstown, 8th; Caitlin Neier, Tappan Zee, Sr.; Cassandra Strnad, Clarkstown, 8th; Anna Marie Zayas, North Rockland, So.