Teacher by Day, Bowler by Night: James Napoli

By HEMA VIKRAM ‘24

James Napoli, a 9th-grade honors English, level two English, AP Seminar teacher, and assistant bowling coach at EHS is a bowler for life. 

“I grew up in the bowling alley,” he says. Napoli’s mother even bowled while she was pregnant with him and he fondly recalls watching his parents bowl when he was a young child.

“I grew up in the bowling alley.”

James Napoli

Mr. Napoli began bowling when he was five or six years old, played through high school and college, and continues to play today. He bowls every Wednesday night with his father as well as with a team from September to May. Additionally, he bowls over the summer in a “fun league with friends.” 

Throughout high school, he bowled for scholarships and his school in East Brunswick. Mr. Napoli has won many titles throughout his bowling career including GMC and division titles. Mr. Napoli also bowled for The College of New Jersey for four years, during one of which he was Treasurer and two of which he was President. He brought many changes to the team, including a more competition-oriented attitude. Once he joined the team, they were able to make it to nationals, among the top eighty teams in the country. 

Mr. Napoli is especially proud that his family was able to be there for many of his successes and to see his progression as a bowler.

 “My mom growing up always used to say, ‘Before I die, I want to see you throw at least one 300,” he explains. Both of his parents were able to see him throw multiple 300’s. “I’ve always been very happy about that, that my family was there to witness it.” 

Mr. Napoli also loves the challenge that bowling entails, continuously trying to improve on one’s last game. Coaching at EHS allows him to assist and watch student athletes progress and improve. He emphasizes, “To me, there is nothing more fulfilling and rewarding than that experience of ‘I helped somebody accomplish something they thought they couldn’t do.’” He finds great joy and gratification in watching the team succeed. 

“I’m very proud of the growth and development they have shown,” he says.  

Mr. Napoli acknowledges that “Bowling is sometimes a sport that gets picked on in jest,” but says that bowling is much more difficult than one may initially think. He says that when you watch professionals play, you realize that it can be a ‘grueling sport’. However, he also recognizes that it is less difficult or dangerous compared to other sports and that it definitely has more potential to play into the later years of one’s life. He also says that it can be very difficult mentally due to the frustration that it may cause.

“You could do everything right and still not throw a strike… and you have to be able to shake that off and go throw the spare,” he says. “There’s a lot that goes into every shot, there’s a lot of thought behind it.”