In his first year as the Flagler Palm Coast boy’s bowling coach, Steve Stripling experienced the crosstown rivalry for the first time on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at the Palm Coast Lanes.
Before this season, Stripling was an employee at Coca-Cola. He met with FPC’s athletic director, Steve DeAugustino, about other business, and mentioned that he had a bowling background. DeAugustino offered him his first coaching position, and he has fell in love with his job and team.
“I really appreciate the sportsmanship that our team exhibits,” he said. “They treat new teammates, the top players on the team and competitors with respect.”
The Bulldogs displayed that respect for their rivals. Although the teams could be heard exchanging friendly trash talk to each other, it was clear that they never meant any harm.
“Friendly rivalries can add a healthy dose of enjoyment and intensity,” Stripling said. “I’m aware that there is rivalry between them, a friendly one.”
Whenever bowlers went on strike streaks for FPC, the Matanzas players applauded and hi-fived them, and the same was done for the Pirates.
Coach Stripling will have his hands full next season. He will lose four bowlers to graduation.
“I’m already developing guys now,” he said. “I try to promote all things that will help develop our guys. We help them develop in class, where we don’t accept the minimum requirements. We allow bowlers to participate in other sports. I try to do anything that will continue to promote sportsmanship with our team.”
The Pirates and Bulldogs will meet again Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Palm Coast Lanes.