Cooper Wrobel made a name for himself last season when he led the Wadsworth boys bowling team to its first state tournament appearance.
Back for more, the senior had the weight of the world on his shoulders and a gigantic target on his back, but responded with a season that made him the first back-to-back Gazette MVP in the sport.
“It was tough going into every match thinking, ‘This is my last match against this team,’” Wrobel said. “It was stressful, but I just went out there and had fun and did what I was supposed to do.”
Wrobel earned a spot in the Summit County Division I District after his 578 three-game series (233-187-158) was strong enough to get him out of the Stark County Sectional.
That’s what you get when you put Wrobel in as your lead man in pressure cookers, where it’s all or nothing.
“He not only took it on, but what he did was a lot more,” Wadsworth coach George Steele said. “The Suburban League is one of the toughest leagues in the state. It’s brought up all the time. There are always at least two teams at the state tournament every year, both boys and girls.
“When you go into every match, there’s always a lot of pressure. He never took on pressure. He went out and performed. That’s how he led. He would do it with a smile. He kept it lighthearted: ‘We came out here to bowl. That’s what we do.’ His demeanor never changed.”
With Wrobel as the benchmark for how to do things the right way, the Grizzlies came into every match confident and composed.
“That’s something you can’t teach a kid,” Steele said. “When they know they’re good but they don’t flaunt it, it’s something every coach wants.
“The skill was there. He comes from a coaching family. He had good coaching as a kid, so when he already has those skills and those tools, that’s where the mental game comes into play. That’s what he had.”
The mindset didn’t change because it was a mindset he learned as a kid. Bowling was a game, and Wrobel knew that. He never made it bigger than it was.
“You just have to go out there and bowl,” he said. “If you get too cocky, you’ll just fall on your face. Every time you go into a tournament or a match, you have to stay calm. I still get nervous, but you just keep going.”
Wrobel finished tied for top average in Medina County with teammate Chris Steele (216.0). His high game of 268 was good enough for a top-six showing, as was his 488 two-game series.
Some of that came from raw skill. Some of it came from the game within the game thanks to All-Gazette teammates in Chris Steele and Eric Auffenberg.
“I bowled as an individual in the individual games, but once it got to Bakers, that’s where it really mattered,” Wrobel said. “The team meant more to me. Getting that self-worth out of bowling meant something different.
“I want to leave that legacy that I was up there with the best of the best. I want people to want to beat me because that’s how I went into competitions.”