After competing in 3 sports in high school, Thomas Jefferson’s Brock to bowl at St. Francis

Monday, June 11, 2018 | 4:09 PM

Liz Brock has had an MVP career as a student-athlete at Thomas Jefferson.

She's been a two-year starter at first base on the Jaguars' softball team, which finished as the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up this season.

Last fall, she earned the No. 1 seed on the TJ girls tennis team.

But it's on the bowling lanes where the left-handed senior has made the biggest impact.

Brock held the anchor position on TJ's girls team all four years of her high school career. She was named section MVP three times, first-team All-WPIAL twice and league MVP once.

She registered the high average among girls in Western Pennsylvania this past season, posting a 210.7 mark, and also rolled the high series with a school-record 730 score.

Brock recorded her first sanctioned perfect game in the fall of her junior year, although she's had several other 300 games in unsanctioned leagues, and in practices.

Brock also has attained MVP status in the classroom, graduating with a 3.6 GPA. She will attend St. Francis in Loretto on an academic/athletic (bowling) scholarship, and plans to studying nursing.

“St. Francis University has been my dream school for three years, since both their nursing and bowling programs are outstanding,” Brock said. “With the (St. Francis) bowling team's performance this past year, winning the NEC, it swayed my decision immensely.”

Brock also considered continuing her academic/athletic career at Duquesne, Youngstown State or Mount Aloysius.

“I would have bowled at all three, and I had been in contact with all of the coaches for a while,” she said. “My first priority was a good nursing program, and my second was I did not want the school to be more than two hours away.”

Brock was the only female in her class to receive a tri-athlete patch as a junior and a senior at Thomas Jefferson.

Along with earning four varsity letters in bowling and softball, and two in tennis, she was in the TJ marching band's majorette squad for four years. She also was a member of the National Honor Society, AP Humanities program and Big Jag Little Cub.

“I do everything left-handed, including bowling,” she said.

Brock competed for the Pittsburgh Lady Roadrunners softball team last summer, but has decided to focus more attention and time on her bowling career.

She has bowled year-round since the age of 5, and competes in high school, travel and league bowling at Brunswick Playmor Bowl.

“My biggest influences in my bowling have been Ray Vilage, my private coach, working with and teaching me for the past five years, and John Kuzniar, my high school coach,” Brock said. “My brother Matt, however, was the biggest reason I started bowling, and the person I love to bowl with the most.”

Matt Brock graduated from Thomas Jefferson with high honors in 2014. Like Liz, Matt was a four-year bowling anchor and letter recipient in high school. He also was a three-year letterman in track and field, and was a senior member of the Jaguars' football team in 2013.

“I have been going to my brother's bowling events since before I could walk,” Liz said. “Since he is four years older than me, I have spent all my life in an alley, from the age of 1.

“He challenges me to be as good as him. We've always had a mini but healthy rivalry that has truly pushed me to be the best I can be, both athletically and academically.”

Vilage has been a certified bowling instructor for more than 25 years. He is in charge of the CCAC South bowling program, and also has coached at West Mifflin.

Vilage served as an assistant to Kuzniar, TJ's bowling coach, in 2017-18. Kuzniar missed a few weeks of the season due to health issues.

“Liz is a pure athlete; she plays a lot of different sports,” Vilage said. “She's pretty much a self-starter. She's been bowling a long time, and she's left-handed; that's a plus (in bowling). She's smart, very intelligent and she's strong. She really works hard.

“I think she will do well in college. It's a different ball game in college, but she'll work at it.”

Last fall, Brock qualified for the Junior Golds national bowling tournament to be held in the second week of July in Dallas, Texas, where she possibly could earn a berth on the Junior Olympic team.

“Various local tournaments nationwide are qualifiers, and these tournaments award spots if enough people pay and register to compete,” Brock said. “I qualified second (as the first female) in one of the first local tournaments out of White Oak Bowl.”

TJ's softball team finished as the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up this season, and was a PIAA qualifier.

“I am so proud of my team and all we have been able to accomplish this season,” Brock said. “We have had many ups and downs, but we stayed focused on our goal(s) from the beginning. No one expected us to make it as far as we did, but that gave us more motivation to prove them wrong. We had some big holes to fill coming into this season, but our underclassmen really stepped up.

“It has truly been an honor to play my last season with coach Karcher and these girls.”

Karcher said Brock has provided a steady presence defensively in the Jaguars infield for the past two seasons.

“Liz is a great first baseman who digs the ball out of the dirt,” Karcher said. “She's a quiet leader and great student in the classroom, taking an advanced placement route of classes.”

In tennis, Brock played in the WPIAL singles and doubles events, teaming with junior Faith Rockwell as her doubles partner.

“Although I really enjoyed section doubles with Faith, and being the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up this year with the softball team, I truly have to say my proudest moments have been through bowling,” Brock said. “I was the first female (possibly first student) in TJ history ever to qualify for the state tournament, and I believe I was the only person in school history to receive the league MVP award.

“However, my favorite memory would have to be having the highest female average in school history. Not only because it was a new record, but because it was an average my brother had strived for his senior year. Getting it my senior year made me feel like I made him proud, too.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.


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