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In the Pocket: Schalmont grad Bidwell aims to be family's top bowler (Shared from the Daily Gazette)

Bob Weiner | January 17, 2019
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Rising star Natasha Bidwell is enjoying one of her best seasons on the lanes, and her competitive fire burns brighter than ever. But despite all of her success, family bragging rights still matter most for the 24-year-old Schalmont High School graduate.

“We enjoy winning as a team, but I’d rather beat my dad. That’s what I enjoy the most,” said Bidwell, who bowls on the same team with her parents, David Sader and Tammy Sader, Saturday nights in the Vitalo Classic at Sportsman’s Bowl. Both her parents are outstanding bowlers in their own right, so Bidwell needs to bowl exceptionally to beat them. So far, she’s taken family bragging rights quite often.

Bidwell, who has four perfect games and three 800 triples on her resume, also bowls in the highly competitive Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial City League at Towne Bowling Academy. She carries an average of about 225 in both of her major leagues, and she also fills in from time to time in other leagues, as well. On weekends, she and boyfriend Matt Fazzone, operator of Action Bowling Supply pro shop at Towne Bowling Academy, usually competes in New England Bowling Association tournaments.

“Everything seems to be going right for me this year,” Bidwell said. “I have some new equipment that Matt drilled up for me. I’ve noticed that my average is higher in both of my leagues than it’s been. I try to make sure my game is as up to date as possible. I actually try to be the top bowler in both of my leagues.”

Bidwell constantly works on her game. After excelling for Schalmont, she bowled at Long Island University for four seasons.

“We came in second in the Northeast Conference one year, and that’s the best they had done in a long time,” Bidwell recalled. “I loved bowling in college, and wish I could go back. I love the competition and the atmosphere of college bowling.”

In adult leagues, Bidwell continues to shine and is always looking for ways to improve.

“I definitely think timing is the key for me,” she said. “Making sure my timing is right, and checking to see if my speed is around 15 miles per hour is important. I also want my release to be the same time after time. I usually like to bowl between the fifth and 10th boards, but I’m actually practicing more on bowling an inside line. I’ve had a problem with that, and I’ve been working on becoming more consistent inside when I need to bowl there.”

Bidwell is currently using an Idol Pearl and the Storm Hy-Road X as the key components of her bowling arsenal. 

“Usually, at Towne, I’ve been using the regular Idol, and then at Sportsman’s, I use the Idol Pearl. After the lanes start to break down, I switch to the Hy-Road X,” Bidwell explained. “The shot at Towne and Sportsman’s is definitely a lot different for me. At Sportsman’s, there is not as much volume of oil. For me, there’s a lot more oil at Towne.”

Bidwell said her father started her in the game when she was about 4 years old. Currently, Fazzone and Nunzi Manuli help her with instruction suggestions when she needs to tweak her game.

Bidwell said that she’s been having a reasonable amount of success in the NEBA tournaments, cashing often.

“I like those tournaments, because they have different sport conditions on the lanes, and I like to compete at different alleys,” she said. “Matt and I like to travel and bowl together on the weekends.”

Bidwell’s goals are to keep improving all aspects of her game.

“League-wise, I would like to have a higher average and maybe try to get another 300 this year,” she said. “In tournaments, I like to cash. Sometimes, I move on to the first round after qualifying. I want to advance further.”

And of course, there is always one consistent goal.

“I also have a little competition with my dad on Saturday nights. I always try to beat him. That’s the best,” she said.