Windsor’s Bly wraps up his 12-year tenure with Yellowjackets

Windsor head coach huddles up with his team before the start of a four-team bowling competition in
 Claremont, N.H., on Feb. 4, 2023. On March 2, 2024, Bly announced his retirement after leading the team for 12 years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Windsor head coach huddles up with his team before the start of a four-team bowling competition in Claremont, N.H., on Feb. 4, 2023. On March 2, 2024, Bly announced his retirement after leading the team for 12 years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file — Geoff Hansen

The Windsor bowling team shows off their awards following the VPA team bowling championship in Colchester,Vt., on March 2, 2024. (Courtesy photograph)

The Windsor bowling team shows off their awards following the VPA team bowling championship in Colchester,Vt., on March 2, 2024. (Courtesy photograph) courtesy photograph

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 03-04-2024 5:39 PM

Modified: 03-04-2024 5:46 PM


COLCHESTER, Vt. — After 12 years of coaching, two state championships and two individual state champions, Windsor bowling coach Steve Bly is stepping down.

Bly, who will be succeeded by Cody Warner next year, was given the Joe James Award at Saturday’s VPA state team championship tournament, won by Randolph in a four-game sweep of South Burlington. The award recognizes significant contributions to high school bowling in Vermont.

After several in the crowd shouted “speech,” Bly declined to take the microphone but said: “After 12 years as coach, I wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

On Sunday, Bly said he appreciated the recognition from his peers in the high school bowling community. “That was nice of them,” he said.

After a first-round bye, Windsor, seeded fifth in the 11-team tournament, defeated the No. 4 seed, St. Johnsbury, 4-1, in the best-of-seven quarterfinals. Down 3-0 in the semifinals to No. 1 seed Randolph — 4-0 winners over Fair Haven in the quarters — the Yellowjackets fought back to win the fourth and fifth games before dropping the sixth.

White River Valley, the 10th seed, lost to seventh-seeded Craftsbury in the quarterfinals, 4-0, and 11th-seeded Hartford was ousted by sixth-seeded South Burlington, 4-1, also in the quarters.

Bly’s Yellowjackets captured state titles in 2014 and 2016, which also was the year Tristan McMullen won the individual state championship. In 2020, Windsor’s Patrick Kelly was seeded 31st out of 32 bowlers and won the state championship, defeating the top seed in the final matchup.

Bly remembered being recruited by former Windsor athletic director Bob Hingston in 2012 one afternoon when he went to pick up his daughter at school and was told the school was starting up a bowling team.

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“He heard I knew something about bowling and asked if I would coach the team,” Bly said.

 Recruiting that first year was word of mouth, Bly said, and he worked hard to get kids involved.

“Some kids had played basketball, but others did not play a winter sport,” Bly said. “Bowling was an opportunity to do something.”

There were about 10 bowlers that first year; the numbers have remained consistent during Bly’s tenure, with 11 bowlers this year. Despite having to travel outside of Windsor to practice, first to White River Junction, then Springfield and now Maple Lanes in Claremont, Bly believes the program is on solid ground with Warner taking his place next year.

“I think it will be strong,” Bly said. “Cody has been with the program this year.”

Bly’s last coaching effort will be Saturday at the Twin State Senior Classic at Maple Lanes, which will include Windsor seniors Avery Bean and Victoria Feickert.

Hartford ended a season of solid improvement, first-year coach Rebecca Kaplan said.

“When I started the season, I wanted to see what was working for the kids,” said Kaplan, a math teacher at Hartford Memorial Middle School. They finished the season with “a solid roster of five,” only one of whom is a senior.

Without a bowling alley nearby, Hartford struggles to practice twice a week, traveling 35 minutes to Maple Lanes,

Likewise, scheduling conflicts meant that White River Valley’s young bowling team practiced only once a week this season, making the relatively short bus ride to Valley Bowl in Randolph. Still, the young team — whose two oldest players are 10th-graders — showed marked improvement. Ninth-grader Devlin Sargent amassed a 139 average for the season, putting him third in his class statewide.

After topping Craftsbury on Feb. 17, WRV went down 4-0 to the Chargers on Saturday, but only after a tie in the fourth game was resolved by a bowl-off.

Though WRV’s season seemed to end on a deflating note, the program reached a peak two weeks ago. Also at the Feb. 17 match, WRV showed some competitive fire by bowling a 172 to take a game from host Randolph, the state’s top team, and then bowling them frame-for-frame before Randolph prevailed 203-188 in the deciding game.

“I’m excited for next year,” WRV’s third-year coach Robynn Martin said.

Two players will move up from middle school, including league bowler Andrew Bradley. In addition, “we’re hoping to get two or three practices a week next year,” Martin said.

The program at WRV is only five years old but continues to grow, she noted, from nine players last year to 12 this year between varsity and JV.

Staff writer Alex Hanson contributed to this story. Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.