By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (February 7, 2022) – From the bowling alley, to the golf course, to the baseball field, Ethan Modjeski continues to bring success to TF South athletics.
The junior most recently represented the Thornton Fractional south-siders at the state bowling competition, where he competed against the best high school bowlers from around Illinois. Though he didn’t place at the tournament, appearing at the state level was the natural result of a season of bowling excellence.
A year of bowling success
“I was nervous to go, because I’ve never been in a huge competition like that before ever. I didn’t know what to expect,” Modjeski said of the state competition, which was held in O’Fallon, Illinois on January 28. Modjeski made it to state after earning second place at sectionals on January 22. The TFS team had advanced to sectionals for the first time since 2013.
The state competition included both team and individual events. Modjeski competed as an individual, as TF South’s team did not qualify for the team event. The tournament required athletes to bowl six games, each against four other individuals on the same lane. The highest totals on Friday, January 28 qualified for the final round on Saturday, January 29. Modjeski did not make the cut to bowl on Saturday.
“I know I didn’t bowl my best that day, but I was glad to be down there. It was a learning experience for me,” Modjeski said, adding that his high game at the state tournament was 204.
That 204 was not representative of Modjeski’s overall season performance, however, as he regularly led the TFS team with scores like 240 on December 19, 255 on November 16, and 257 on December 13. The junior’s highest score of the season came on November 30, when he threw 290, scoring a spare on the first frame and throwing strikes the rest of the way.
“I think it’s probably been my best season so far,” Modjeski said. “I was satisfied with how I bowled this season. Big improvement over the past few years.”
Improving, pin after pin
Modjeski explained that the improvements he’s made over the last few years have to do with the emotional side of the sport.
“It’s all about being able to control your emotions when you’re bowling. It’s all mental. If you have one bad game, you can’t get down on that. You just got to keep going and forget about it, and try to be the best that you can,” he said.
Modjeski said he’s bowled three perfect games in his life, with one coming during last’s year’s season and the other 300 scores coming in recreational play.
Things weren’t always turkeys and high-scoring numbers for Modjeski, though, as he started bowling with his friends while he was in middle school. To build in more time having fun at the bowling alley, he and his friends joined the bowling team at Memorial Junior High.
“I very quickly got good at it. I don’t put much thought into, really. I just go and bowl,” Modjeski said.
When looking towards next year, the current TFS junior is excited at getting another crack at appearing at state, both as an individual and as part of a team.
“We’re already excited for next year. We think we’ll have a pretty good team and we’re hoping to all make it down to state as a team next year,” he said.
His coach, Eric Valiska, agreed, saying, “[Ethan] should be able to get back there next year.”
Baseball and golf
When he’s not throwing bowling balls after school, Modjeski spends his time hitting either baseballs or golf balls.
Competing last fall for the TFS golf team, Modjeski was consistently a high-performer, earning an All-Conference award after shooting a team-leading 89 at a conference tournament on September 23.
As bowling season ends, Modjeski is looking forward to baseball season, a sport that he’s also seen success in. He plays right field, and is sometimes called upon to pitch.
When asked what his favorite sport is between bowling, golf, and baseball, Modjeski gave bowling the nod.
“Baseball has always been the number one, I’ve been playing it since I was a kid. But bowling has taken it over at this point. I’ve put more work into bowling now than baseball,” Modjeski said.
Looking to the future
Beyond his senior seasons next year, Modjeski is hoping to use bowling as a way to land him some college scholarships.
“I think if the scouts are there when I perform, I think I could get a scholarship for bowling. I believe in myself. I think I can do it,” he said.
“Right now, bowling is maybe my main [professional] goal — trying to make a career out of it. I’m good enough to compete with those guys on TV, I think, in a couple of years,” he said.
In his three years bowling at TF South, Modjeski is grateful to coach Valiska and his team members for creating a good culture around bowling: “I love it there. I like Coach, all the guys on the team. We’re all creating friendships and we all like hanging around with each other and bowling at practice. It’s fun for all of us. We have a good time.”
To read more about TF South sports, visit our sports page.
- TF South bowler advances to state championship (January 26, 2022)
- TFS Sports round-up: Ethan Modjeski named an All-Conference golfer (September 24, 2021)
- TF South Boys Basketball beats district rival TF North – Photos (February 6, 2022)