Bowling: Sacks family fuels the Aviators

If the family that plays together stays together, the Sacks family is in it for the long haul.

Steve, the dad, is in his eighth season as head coach of the Vandalia Butler High School bowling team. His children, Paul, Jess and Drew, compete for the Aviators. Oldest son Eric bowls for Lindenwood University. Even mom, Ellen, is a bowler.

“They’ve always bowled,” Steve said of his children. “But we’ve never put any pressure on them. We wanted bowling to be the fun thing they did.”

Off the lanes, Paul plays football while twin sister Jess dances competitively and younger brother Drew plays soccer. But they all love bowling.

While they share a love of the game, the Sacks kids have drastically different bowling styles. Paul is a two-handed right-hander while Drew is a two-handed lefty. Jess, like her dad, is right-handed. Regardless of their release, the goal is the same when these competitive siblings take to the lanes — to beat each other.

“We are extremely competitive,” Drew, a freshman, said. “Even when we go out to practice, it’s all about who bowls the most strikes.”

Paul, a sophomore, agrees.

“I can’t stand having either of my siblings beat me,” he said.

Paul currently has bragging rights among the three as far as high game with a 300, but Drew has the edge in average with a 202 this season. Not to be outdone, Jess holds the girls school record for high game with a 266.

“I feel like it helps make us better,” Jess said of battling for family bragging rights. “We all want to do our best every time we bowl.”

That competitive spirit is shared by the rest of the Aviators. The boys are 9-2 while the girls are 8-2. Both squads have already posted a tournament win.

With other sports and activities on their plate, it’s not quite all bowling all the time for the Sacks kids but, in season, it’s pretty close. And the 60-plus bowling balls in their home attest to their dedication.

And even with Dad doing double-duty as coach, there are few issues.

“At times, it can be hard to balance, but I do the best I can,” Steve said. “And they respond very well.”

“Bowling has always been a family thing,” Jess said. “It’s just part of who we are.”

And, if anything, that family tradition provides motivation.

“I guess it’s a little more challenging when your dad is the coach,” Paul said. “But, mostly, because I don’t want to let him down.”