CHATHAM, NJ - Craig Swartz has a hard time holding back his excitement when he starts to talk about Chatham freshman bowler Evie Stiner.
He's already envisioning what the 14-year-old will be able to do next year when she's a little stronger and, perhaps, rolling a heavier ball.
"The sky is the limit for her," Swartz, the coach of Chatham's co-ed bowling team, said. "She has a classic three-step approach and she'll only continue to get better."
Swartz so admires Stiner's bowling style that he's considered adjusting his own four-step approach to mirror that of his No. 1 bowler.
The coach is just as enamored with what Stiner has been able to accomplish this season. In addition to owning the top average for the Chatham team, she led all girls in the South Division of the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference with a 155 average.
Evie Stiner is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
Stiner recalls her motivation to improve her bowling skills when she was younger. It had to do with her older sister, Emma, who was a co-captain of the Chatham co-ed team last season when she was a senior.
"I wanted to beat her," she said. "It's probably a sibling rivalry. We all try to beat each other. You're working as a team, but also as an individual. You're trying to beat your teammates and the other team."
Stiner considers math one of her favorite school subjects and she noticed that her numbers at the bowling alley continued to climb as the season progressed.
"I'm proud of how far I've come since the beginning of the season," Stiner said. "At the beginning, I was barely getting scores over 100. My scores have continued to go up."
Stiner got some tips from her older sister on picking up spares, an aspect of her game she greatly improved.
"I didn't really know where to stand and how to go about getting spares," Stiner said. "I made some adjustments. I changed where I stand and where I throw it. Small things."
Stiner's high game this season has been a 220 with her curveball style. In addition, she is learning the mental aspect of the competition, taking tips from watching an opponent bowl a perfect 300 game against Chatham in the county tournament.
"When you get up and you're ready, you need to concentrate and block out as many distractions as you can," Stiner said. "If I have a bad game, it makes me frustrated, but it makes me want to do better in my next game."
Stiner will be leading Chatham into the state tournament, which starts Friday at Jersey Lanes in Linden.
Chatham's No. 1 bowler, Evie Stiner, shows her striking form during practice at Hanover Lanes
Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at 973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website.