Fries makes significant impact for Kenmore West bowling
But as the season has rolled along he sees day-after-day just how lucky he is.
A senior captain with the Blue Devils, Fries has been lighting the Niagara Frontier League on fire as one of, if not, its most consistent bowlers.
“When I first took the job, especially with the girls team, Ashley’s name was the first name that came up,” said Monahan, who is in his first season coaching Ken-West bowling.
“When (athletics director) Brett (Banker) interviewed my for the position, at the NFL coaches meeting, they all said you gotta watch this girl,” he added. “She’s a great bowler. And she didn’t disappoint. She’s been tremendous.”
Fries, who is in her fourth season on the team, has indeed been amazing. As of press time, her 737 high series ranks first in the league, her 209 average is second and her 269 high game is fourth.
“I’m actually very surprised at how good I’ve been doing so far,” Fries said. “I’ve improved about 20 pins since last year so I’ve exceeded my expectations.”
Fries attributes her pin count rise to a combination of more practice, greater dedication and working with a new ball.
Numbers aside, the most impressive thing about Fries is the remarkable consistency she has shown. It isn’t like she rebounded from a slow start or tailed off at any point.
It’s been one solid game after another with no drop off of any kind.
“I’m really proud and I’m really happy that I’ve been doing this well,” she said. “After states last year, I just wanted to keep bowling well and I have been.”
In a season-long neck-and-neck battle with Lockport’s Bridget Masiello for top average, Fries said that being able to stick with one of the best bowlers in the state is a confidence booster that helps her stay on top of her game.
“She’s a really good bowler,” Fries said. “Staying close in average to her is really good for me.”
But while the numbers are obviously dazzling they only scratch the surface of what she brings to the Blue Devils everyday.
Fries brings a calming effect that has rubbed off on a young team and has taught them how to deal with the good and bad of a season. It’s something that Monahan says you just can’t put a price tag on.
“She’s been very calm, very poised. And for a high school student very professional,” he said. “She never let’s anything get to her. She has a good shot; she doesn’t get too excited. She has a bad game, she knows how to make her adjustments.
“She’s just a great leader by example,” he added. “Bowling is more of a mental game than people think...And I think it’s more of a mental game than a lot of these younger girls realized, and Ashley helps them see that.”
Fries said that she wants to be that person to set the good examples and teach girls what it means to be a varsity bowler and the level of commitment it takes to succeed, regardless of the wins and losses.
“I just try to encourage them, that (if they make) a bad shot it’s really OK. It’s really not that bad,” Fries said. “I give them high fives to support them.”
Part of the Section VI team that went to states last year, Fries is obviously hoping for a return trip.
Regardless of what the last few weeks of her scholastic career holds, Fries' impact on Blue Devils’ bowling will last long after she has left.