Upper Moreland High School Bowling Coach Dale Simonsen knew his team could have a special season. He also knew his bowlers would be easy to coach.
“They listen,” said Simonsen. “I bowl, and my assistant coach bowls. They see us bowl, and they know we know what we are doing, so they listen. If we tell them to try something, they try it. If it doesn’t work, we try something else until we get it.”
The combination of the bowlers’ attentiveness to their coach and their talent at the lanes has produced a memorable season for the Golden Bears.
Upper Moreland’s girls and boys finished second in the Suburban One League Continental Conference. Simonsen wasn’t surprised to see an experienced group of boys bowlers contend throughout the winter. However, the rapid progress of the girls turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
“The experience was with the boys,” Simonsen said. “They were all seniors with some depth. I expected them to do very well. The girls have had a phenomenal year, and they are young. I have three sophomores and a freshman. The girls program is really just starting. It was exciting to watch.”
In addition to the success of his team, Simonsen has had the pleasure of watching his two twin sons, Dean and Jared, make the most of their senior seasons. However, having two sons on the team can make things a bit more nerve-racking for the head coach.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch,” Simonsen said. “It can also be agonizing. You want them to succeed so badly, so you’re up and down with them.”
Dean Simonsen will be one of four seniors from Upper Moreland competing at the Individual Eastern PA Regional Tournament on March 3. Also competing for the Bears will be Kurt Rosenberger, Chris Searles and Kristen Brownholtz.
“It’s a thrill with four seniors going,” Simonsen said. “This was their final chance to get there. It’s going to be fun for them.”
Simonsen had high praise for all of his bowlers, but was quick to point out how Brownholtz’s leadership was a big part of the girls’ success. Brownholtz was also the top girls bowler for the Bears throughout the winter.
“She gathers them all together when they are going bad,” Simonsen said. “She gets the girls together and supports them. She’s always pumping up the boys and helping them, too. She’s just all over the place.”
Simonsen said athletes in other sports need to have the special skills to excel. In bowling, he believes the mental approach is the biggest part of the game.
“There are different sports where you need to have special talent,” Simonsen said. “With bowling, I think anybody can do it. It’s about adjustments.”
The boys will be hit hard by graduation this year, while the girls have several standouts with two or three years remaining. Simonsen is hoping the success of this year’s team will have long-term benefits for the program.
“It’s been great this season,” Simonsen said. “I don’t know yet what it’s going to translate into. We’ve got a few kids who just started bowling with us last year and this year that made good progress.”
Future bowlers, as well as the returning stars, can expect the same basic approach by their coach that led to their success in the 2010-11 campaign.
“This is what we’ve been teaching all along,” Simonsen said. “Bowling is not emotional. It’s about adjustments. If you find the right place to stand and find the right place to throw, that’s all it is. That’s what we’ve brought to them. We’re not bowling against the other teams. We’re bowling against the lanes.”