How the 2021 winter sports seasons were affected by Covid-19: Bowling and Wrestling


As they mentally prepare for their upcoming match, the bowling team stops for a picture to express their team spirit and their success throughout the season.

by Michael Taromina, Staff Writer

As the fall season came to an end, and the cold weather brought a resurgence and increased fear of COVID-19, it was tough to imagine a successful winter sports season would transpire, let alone happen. But with the stringent guidance from the Department of Health, and the go-ahead from Governor Phil Murphy, winter sports were given full permission to occur on a high school level, and Glen Rock used that approval to their full advantage. Different sports called for different rules and regulations to be put in place, but almost all sports experienced some level of change. However, according to the winter coaches of Glen Rock High School, these challenges and obstacles didn’t stop most of them from achieving many of their pre-season goals and rising as champions.



A team that notably did not let their motivation and devotion to the sport overcome them in the eyes of COVID-19 was bowling. Headed by coach Bonnie Zimmermann, who has been the varsity and junior varsity coach for eight consecutive years, the bowling team only lost one match and emerged as the NJIC Division 4 Champions. With that triumph came the burden of abiding by the strict regulations put for the bowling team, which included daily COVID-19 health check ins, not sharing the same set as opponents, dividing the teams with curtains and no shaking hands or high fives. But these rules did not sever the team’s morale toward safety and public health.

“We all knew that we had to keep each other safe, so we just did what we had to do,” said Zimmermann, “It wasn’t hard – we were in it together. We helped each other out.”

Bowling is, undoubtedly, much different than other sports. During competition, the players from other teams would socialize with those of Glen Rock and actually support each other. Being separated from each other, and not having any spectators come to watch their matches killed the community vibe that the sport strives to make.

The bowling team poses for a picture to celebrate their victory in their previous match. Though masks are on them, it is quite clear that they are smiles are big and bright.

“Bowling is a community, so it’s more social than most sports,” said Zimmermann.

Though the bowling team suffered major drawbacks, the team’s ingenuity made for some creative solutions and the players’ motivation for victory assured an array of accomplishments. 

When the team heard that they couldn’t have any spectators, they concocted an Instagram page to live their matches and posted pictures within the feed to commemorate special moments of highlight certain events for everyone to see. 

With that, the team had a new crop of players moving up to three of the four varsity spots which turned out to be a success. The foursome included Senior captain Greg Hutchins, and? sophomores Owen Smith, Tim Ryan, and Andrew Lee. Their dedication to the sport resulted in all four season averages being in the top ten of the league. Notably, Andrew Lee was 2nd best high average, and Greg Hutchins finished in fourth. Additionally, with the musical not happening during the winter, the team was able to recruit a couple of players to join including Carlos Mascari and Chris Rundle. 

“All players came into the season ready to go- they all improved immensely from last season and that’s all due to their hard work and commitment to the program. I was so pleased and looked forward to seeing what each player could do this season,” said Zimmermann, “We had a great group!”

The team had a shorter season and played less matches overall, but they were fortunate and thankful for a season anyway. Unfortunately, the team had to quarantine for two weeks, which was normal for many other schools they visited as well. They ended up having a strict season ending date so they had to play “tri-matches,” where Glen Rock’s scores were against two other schools on a specific day. Luckily, the bowlers were ready and able to “rock and roll” every day and hit the high note in the end. 

“I can’t stress enough how great these players improved from last season.  They were so motivated that it was great to let them go and roll!  It was all on the players to remain positive and they did just that,” said Zimmermann, “So happy that we also did well competitively.  Our future is bright!”



“I was extremely satisfied with the compliance as our team was not shut down throughout our season,” said Corey Fitzpatrick, head wrestling coach.

One sport that arguably faced the most COVID-19 restrictions throughout their season was wrestling. But despite those challenges, the team finished with a record of 3-8 even though they sustained many injuries/quarantines throughout the season. They also had two wrestlers advance to the NJSIAA North 1 Individual Super Region. Some prominent stars throughout the season include Nolan Clark who qualified at 285 pounds and Angelo Piazza who took 5th in the Super Region at 220 pounds. 

In terms of restrictions and regulations, at practices, the team was broken down into two separate groups that only practiced with each other and the mats in the wrestling room were cleaned prior to practice, between sessions, and then was cleaned by custodial staff at night.  Students were not required to wear a mask during practice in the wrestling room, but had to wear a mask at all places outside the wrestling room including our portion of practice that took place in the new weight room. In the new weight room, the groups were broken down and they stayed within their group and cleaned every piece of equipment after the equipment was used.  

At matches, the mats were cleaned prior to the varsity match and in between varsity and JV as per NJSIAA rules. Likewise, home and away match benches were socially distanced and all wrestlers had to wear their mask except during their match. Additionally, all wrestlers, both at home and away matches, needed to clean their shoes prior to stepping on the match mat.  Outside of that, wrestlers were highly encouraged to not attend social gatherings outside of school to limit the chance of getting COVID-19 and thus shutting the team down.

It wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t call it hard. We did what we had to do to make sure that we had the opportunity to train and compete,” said Fitzpatrick. 

Unfortunately, the team missed out on some entertaining events due to COVID-19. They missed two individual and ten team tournaments, the BCCA Individual Tournaments. They also had 15 fewer dual meets and had no team state sectionals or district tournament. With that, the team had to adapt to a shorter pre-season, no scrimmages, less overall matches to gain experience, and no running out or Lehigh introductions for dual meets. Furthermore, like most sports they had to adapt to less of a match atmosphere.

“Only home parents were allowed at Glen Rock matches and almost every other school had a home parent attendance rule. If it were an away dual meet, parents and fans were given a streaming link to watch the match,” said Fitzpatrick. “A majority were free on YouTube, but several cost $10.99 to watch.”

In a normal season, the team would typically wrestle anywhere from 24-28 dual meets. They would also attend the BCCA individual wrestling tournament, two ten team individual tournaments, team state sectionals, and have the first tournament for the NJSIAA individual state wrestling tournament called the District Tournament. There schools can enter a wrestler into each weight class with the opportunity to compete to take top 3 and advance to the Regional Tournament which is the second tournament to get to the NJSIAA individual State Tournament held at Boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ

This season, the team only had 11 dual meets and none of the above was included. The NJSIAA tournament was broken down into a Super Regional Tournament where the eight normal Regions were combined into four “Super Regions.’  Wrestlers had to be selected by a committee to have the chance to wrestle in the Super Regional and advance to the State Tournament which was not held at Boardwalk Hall, but rather held at Phillipsburg High School.

“The team was grateful for the opportunity to train and compete.  A lot of people doubted wrestling and the possibility of wrestling season happening during the pandemic,” said Fitzpatrick. “We worked extremely hard to make sure that we did everything in our power to make sure we can have a full season and I am extremely proud of how the team did the right things both in the room, in school, and outside of school to get the job done.”