(Written by Hopewell High School Bowling Coach Stan Magusiak):
It’s not that the Hurricanes were the best team the Vikings would face that year – they weren’t. And it wasn’t that the Vikings hadn’t been defeated yet – because they certainly had been. So what was so challenging about this match?
It was the first time the Vikings had bowled as a whole team all season. Before that, with enrollment way below that of previous years, the Vikings varsity bowling team consisted of a returning sophomore, who was the only previous letter winner on the team, a freshman who had never bowled at the high school level before, two high school sophomores who had never bowled before and two high school juniors who had also never bowled before. This wasn’t just their first away match as a team, this was their first match at any level as a team. Before this match they had bowled short handed while the students who had enrolled tried to recruit new members to try bowling for the first time.
That team was quiet.
They showed up hardly knowing each other, bowled five total strangers who all had more experience than them, and all acted as the polite and shy teenagers you would expect them to be.
The Hurricanes jumped on the Vikings winning the first two games and ending the match quickly. Then Gannon Berg, a junior who was barely averaging 100 pins a game took over. Not with his bowling expertise mind you, though he did throw an impressive 154 that third game, but with his personality.
Someone bowled a spare and “BANG There it is!” rang out from where Hopewell was sitting.
Then a strike and a louder “BANG THERE IT IS!” followed.
This continued the whole game eventually ending in a playful shouting competition with New Castle that simultaneously brought fifteen young athletes out of their shells.
Gannon started that chant.
It’s been over a year since that match and this team has not shut up since.
That’s the sort of subtle (or not so subtle, depending on your interpretation) leadership that has made Gannon an irreplaceable member of the Vikings and earned him the title of team captain of the men’s team.
In the year since, Gannon has not only improved his bowling incredibly – he’s currently carrying a 144 average and ranking 15/44 in the section and 4th on the team. But he also has helped with recruiting – adding, among others, fellow seniors Owen Gruber and Nick Riviera to the team. And shows up every week with an exceptional attitude. He’s the rare combination of young athlete who holds himself to an impeccable standard but also refuses to let negative emotion show when he’s struggling. “I try to lead by example as best as I can,” said Berg when asked his thoughts on being the bowling captain.
He does. And then some.
He started the year as the team’s sixth man but has since made himself effectively impossible to scratch.
Gannon is the son of Kortney and Matthew Berg and the brother of Kaylin Berg. He participates in both varsity volleyball and varsity bowling as well as marching band. He said his favorite sport is volleyball, but that was hard to type out.
He also participates in frisbee, Beaver County Stockman’s Club and plans to attend the University of North Dakota to study Biology where he has been accepted into the honors program.
If you ask Gannon what he’s most proud of from his career at Hopewell, he’ll humbly say that his proudest achievement is making honor roll every year in high school.
The men’s Viking team is much more competitive this year, but when they started to slip in a recent match against Quaker Valley it was another “BANG” from Gannon that got them going and started a turnaround that ended in winning a huge match last week. It didn’t hurt that he also decided to throw four of his last five strikes in the pivotal game at the same time, either.
What can I say? Leadership can be multi-dimensional.
His dedication not only to bowling but also to his academics and extracurricular activities showcases a well-rounded individual. The impact of his leadership, marked by a simple yet powerful chant, shows how a single person’s positivity and spirit can influence an entire community.
Gannon’s story isn’t just about bowling; it’s about the power of leadership and the difference one person can make in a team. It’s a testament to the idea that true leaders lead by example, bringing out the best in themselves and those around them – even when they’re not trying to.
Gannon will bowl his final home match on Wednesday at Sheffield Lanes against Montour.
These days, it’s pretty hard to go a night at Sheffield Lanes without hearing “BANG, THERE IT IS” shouted from someone after a strike. It’s been yelled everywhere from men’s league nights to Saturday morning junior bowling. Knowing bowlers, that chant will ring out at Sheffield Lanes for years to come – and now you’ll all know where it came from.