Pennsbury senior girls bowler Kelly Frain (front row, right) is seen here with her parents and coach Dave Nichol (back row, right) at an athletic commitment ceremony held recently at the West Campus. Kelly is headed to Long Island University-Brooklyn. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
FALLS TOWNSHIP – Pennsbury senior Kelly Frain has one more season of varsity bowling in which to compete before she heads off to Long Island University (LIU) – Brooklyn.
Frain hopes to lead the Lady Falcons to new heights in her final year on the high school bowling lanes. Two years ago, she helped lead the girls team to a state championship, the only such Pennsylvania title ever garnered by the Pennsbury girls program.
For her part, Frain was a sophomore coming onto a Falcon girls team that had lost seniors Lauren Feher, Jess Parent and Devin Del Donno to graduation. With an average over 200, Feher was perennially the top bowler in the Lower Bucks County area. Parent was close behind with and average over 190 and grabbed second place at the 2014 SOL championships with a 667 series. Del Donno was also a good bowler, averaging 175 while taking seventh at SOLs
“When we came into the (2014-15) season, we had lost a lot of crucial players – seniors – and everybody thought that we were going to be really bad,” explained Frain.
However, Frain and her lane-mates that year would prove all the pundits wrong.
Paired with Saige Osterhout, Brittany Sinclair, Elizabeth Bruner and Aurora Erdly, Frain and company captured a state championship in 2015 when they outpaced Elizabethtown 2-1. Pennsbury won states despite trailing the semifinals and finals, 1-0.
“Everybody thought we were going to be the underdogs,” said Frain, of the 2014-15 season. “We came out and we won the regionals, the eastern regionals and the states.
“It was amazing – just to prove everybody wrong.”
After this, her final, season with the Falcons, Frain will instead fly with the Blackbirds of LIU Brooklyn. Ironically, the Blackbirds made their first ever Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship appearance in March when they fell 4-2 to Sacred Heart.
While Frain acknowledged she also looked at a few other schools including Duquesne, in the end, the others were inconvenient in terms of proximity to the Frain household.
“The other schools were great but it just came down to the distance,” said Kelly. “Duquesne is in Pittsburgh so it’s five and a half hours away. LIU is in Brooklyn so it’s an easy train ride up.”
Another factor weighing in LIU’s favor is that Kelly’s dad is a passenger train engineer for New Jersey Transit.
Last season, Pennsbury clinched a Suburban One League (SOL) National title after a late-season tie with Harry S Truman. Ironically, the only year the Lady Falcons did NOT win the league was 2015, the year they won states (Truman took the SOL National crown that year).
Last year in individual postseason play, Frain captured a bronze medal at Eastern Regionals, while also earning a medal at states. Frain rolled 1,147 in a five-game set to capture a state medal.
“She’s a good bowler,” said current Pennsbury girls bowling coach Dave Nichol. “She’s a good kid – a real class act.”
After guiding the Falcon boys team for years, Nichol has recently taken the reins of the girls team from outgoing skipper Courtney Abel. According to Frain, Abel was a real influence on her.
“She really challenged me in my mindset,” said Frain, of Abel. “Bowling is 90 percent in your head.
“It’s a thinking person’s game so have to have a really straight head and she really helped me mature as a bowler.
“I was really grateful for that.”
Behind then Truman senior Kelsey Hackbart (196.53), Frain had the second best league average last season at 193.67 and also led the Falcons with a 596 in league matches. Four of the five Pennsbury girls bowlers averaged 500-plus in league matches and their fifth bowler was just five pins below that mark. All five Pennsbury bowlers had at least one series of 565 or better in league matches last season.