Tags Posts tagged with "Michael Bowler"

Michael Bowler

Photo from Petey LaSalla

Every spring, North Shore residents do not have to look far to watch the best lacrosse players in America oppose each other on the local high school and college levels of competition.  

2018 Rocky Point High School graduate Petey LaSalla is one of the finest face-off men in America. He is currently a student-athlete at the University of Virginia, where he has recently won his second lacrosse National Championship in the last three years.

LaSalla is a hard-nosed young man that is referred as a throwback to many decades ago. Many of his former teachers and coaches marvel at LaSalla’s simplicity of being a grounded young man that resembles the tenacity of boxing champ Rocky Marciano. 

Photo from Petey LaSalla

A devoted athlete, LaSalla began playing football when he was five years old where he dominated through his ability to run the ball and to play linebacker. Years later, LaSalla was a two-time all county football player, and placed second in the voting for Joseph Cipp Award for the top running back in Suffolk County. 

At Rocky Point, he holds this school’s offensive records in scoring 43 career touchdowns and 20 alone in 2017. This most valuable player was described by Coach Anthony DiLorenzo as having the “leadership and skills to push everyone to play at another level. If our team needed a big play, we called upon Petey.  The opponent always understood that Petey was the cornerstone of this football team, and he was rarely stopped. Petey had one of the largest hearts ever to play at Rocky Point.”

In fifth grade, he played lacrosse through the Rocky Point Youth Program under John Kistner, where he first learned about this game. After his 7th grade lacrosse year, LaSalla played on the junior varsity team during his 8th and 9th grade seasons. During his sophomore season, LaSalla grew taller, lifted weights and sharpened his own skills. 

During his earlier high school years, LaSalla’s face-off techniques were aided by 2010 Rocky Point High School graduate Tommy Kelly.  Through the expertise of this Division I and professional lacrosse player, these lessons helped make this face-off man into one of the most feared in New York State, and LaSalla appreciated the knowledge of Kelly that taught him this difficult trade.  

LaSalla became one of the best players in New York State, as he won 78% of his face-offs. It was later increased to 81% during his junior year, and as a senior, LaSalla gained 84% of the face-offs.  

While many of these lacrosse specialists usually leave the field after winning a face-off, LaSalla rarely took a break against his opponents. Later, he was recruited by college coaches that watched his ability to be an all-around player, that won the bulk of his face-offs, scored goals, and control the tempo of a game. 

Photo from Petey LaSalla

By the time that he graduated, LaSalla excelled as a two-time All-American player, the first in school history, and was an all-state, county and league athlete. This Newsday First Team All Long Island player was heavily touted as the 94th top recruit and the 8th finest high school senior in America by Inside Lacrosse. 

Rocky Point School District Athletic Director Charles Delargy recalled that LaSalla was “the most dominant face-off man that I had ever seen in my career. And most importantly, an even better person, from a wonderful family.”

Being from a long line of dominant lacrosse players that were on the Rocky Point teams since the early 1970s, LaSalla appreciated the guidance of his late coach Michael P. Bowler. It was the guidance of this long-time figure that pushed him into the right direction to reach his ability in high school and later in college. 

Bowler had a unique connection to this family, as he also mentored LaSalla’s father, Peter, and his older brother, Nicholas, in lacrosse. LaSalla recalled that Bowler was “an outstanding coach, that helped me take this sport seriously and gain the work ethic that was necessary to become a dominant player. He supported me through the recruiting process and spoke with my coach at the University of Virginia. But most importantly, he taught me life lessons, that made me into a better person.”  

The wife of this iconic lacrosse coach, Helene Bowler has seen a multitude of games and players from Rocky Point over the last 40 years. She recalled that her late-husband saw LaSalla as a “gifted and a driven player, that was extremely coachable, and motivated to improve his game. He always gives 100% in all of his endeavors and Petey was a capable student-athlete that is a special young man.”  

When Bowler passed away in late November 2019, it was interesting to see LaSalla speak with his grandson John who was a mid-fielder that played for Duke University. These two young men were tied to Bowler through family and lacrosse, has a bond that was seen when John recently texted his grandmother that he was recently pleased to watch LaSalla achieve his second national title.  

After his time at Rocky Point, LaSalla moved onto the University of Virginia. Right away, this was a strong fit for a Division I powerhouse that gained a driven athlete that expects to play against the finest rival teams in this country. It did not take long for this quiet kid from Miller Place to make his mark felt in Charlottesville. 

Photo from Petey LaSalla

For a brief time, LaSalla became the starting face-off man, as he took over this responsibility from a senior player that was injured. LaSalla eventually split time with this player and later started at this position during his first college season. And while LaSalla ascended to this notable role, he became good friends with this player that he replaced.  

Even as one of the youngest players on the field, the grit of LaSalla was felt by Virginia and the opposition, as he took 60% of all face-off’s during his first year. At once, LaSalla showed his teammates the work ethic that made him famous at Rocky Point by dominating High Point, taking 73% of the face-offs during the quarterfinals against Maryland, and against John Bowler, he took 64% of the face-offs and scored a goal against Duke University. 

During the National Championship game, LaSalla, faced-off against the formidable TD Irelan, and held his own by taking the ball 46% of the time during this game. In front of his family and friends of Will Smith, Damian Rivera, Jared DeRosa and Christopher Gordon, LaSalla scored two goals, and helped Virginia capture this national title.

The 2020 season quickly cut after three games due to COVID-19. Although Virginia was looking forward to defending its crown, the pandemic shut down sports in this country, and this team would have to wait until 2021. 

During the interlude, LaSalla hit the weights and ran to stay in good shape. Through the second run to gain another National Championship, due to COVID, Virginia players were relaxed in their pursuit of remaining the best team in America.  

LaSalla had his most productive game against the University of North Carolina, as he won 76% of the face-off’s, scored a goal, had an assist, and took every face-off later in the game. He was later recognized as the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week and was the face-off representative for a NCAA team of all-stars. 

As a junior, LaSalla emerged as a team leader, where it was his goal to win over 60% of the face-off’s, against teams like North Carolina, Bryant and Georgetown. As LaSalla expects to be an active teammate on the field, he was often injured during this season. At West Point, he pulled his hamstring against Army, and while he dominated North Carolina, LaSalla sprained his ankle, and was unable to walk after this contest.

Photo from Petey LaSalla

And during the second National Championship that LaSalla won, he scored a goal, and took a late face-off to preserve this close Virginia victory over Maryland.  Armed with an immense drive to succeed, the reserved LaSalla was again pictured with the championship trophy. 

Peter LaSalla Sr., marvels at the motivation of his son to succeed at the highest levels and believes that his boy “is always a humble player and the hardest worker on the field. He is prepared for his games and never think’s that he did enough to help his team. Petey has the heart of a lion.”  

This student-athlete is one of the most grounded young men that you will ever meet, even before this interview took place, LaSalla spent the morning moving yards of mulch for his mother. 

LaSalla who is one of the finest face-off men in this country, rarely ever mentions his own accomplishments. In high school, he was a member of the National and History Honors Society, the President of the Varsity Club, and a close son to his family. 

Wearing a big smile and an iron will, LaSalla continues to make the North Shore proud of his amazing athletic accomplishments. You can bet that LaSalla will be at the center of Virginia’s efforts to retain their standing as the most talented team in the country, but his words will always be carried out by his positive character and positive athletic actions on the field during the most serious games.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College.

The Bowler family at midfield prior to the first inaugural Coach Michael Bowler Tribute and Remembrance-day June 5. Bill Landon photo

Rocky Point’s legendary boy’s lacrosse coach Michael Bowler, who passed away in December of 2019, was honored in the Inaugural Michael Bowler Tribute and Remembrance Day, Saturday, June 5, at Rocky Point High School. Bowler, who established the boy’s lacrosse program back in 1978, fielded a winning season in his first year. Bowler served as head coach for the Eagles through 43 seasons with more than 600 wins to his credit, and led his team to the New York State Championship title in 2008.

A Bowler player has attended every major college, Ivy league school and Military academy in the nation. Recently, Rocky Point lacrosse alum Peter LaSalla, a junior at the University of Virginia, won his team’s second National Championship.

Coach Bowler was named New York State Coach of the Year in boys lacrosse by the National Federation of High School sports in 2020. The award is presented to recipients who have made the greatest impact to student athletes in their respective sport.

Coach Bowler’s family and his wife, Helene, took center stage at midfield prior to Saturday’s game where the Eagles honored the late coach’s legacy with a win 13-2 victory over Kings Park.

Rocky Point captain John O’Conner escorted Mrs. Bowler to midfield wearing No. 43 to honor coach Bowler’s 43 years at the helm. O’Connor won 13 of 18 battles at face off with senior attackmen Charles Gerace scoring 5 goals and Anthony Milano netting 4.

   — Photos by Bill Landon

Helene Bowler, Charles Gerace, Reilly Orlando and Tom Walsh honor Michael Bowler. Photo from Bowler family

“Circumstances the way they were, the ball just didn’t bounce our way today.  I hate to say it but that is the way life is, it isn’t always fair. And it takes a good man to lose and then to come back from it. You guys have your whole lives ahead of you, you have nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of — even though we didn’t win everything, in my book we did. Because guys are everything. Not the trophy, not the wins, it’s you guys.” 

On Dec. 6, 2019, Michael Bowler eulogized the special memory of his father Michael P. Bowler who was a noted teacher, coach, club adviser, and administrator at Rocky Point High School since 1973. 

This powerful speech was given at Infant Jesus R.C. Church in Port Jefferson, in front of a packed crowd of family members, neighbors, teachers, friends, former lacrosse players, coaches and parents.   

 For decades, he spent countless hours in his classroom, administrative office, and on the practice and game fields.  

This week, Rocky Point High School honored Bowler with a large picture frame with his trademark coaching jacket, hat, whistle and pictures that showed his more-than forty 40 years of service to this North Shore community. 

Always armed with a big smile and a can-do attitude, Bowler was the epitome of commitment toward every type of student and athlete who crossed his path during his life in education. 

Even up to his death, as he fought cancer, Bowler expected to coach his players, where they were never far from his mind.  His life focused on the love of his family, service to his church, , and the devotion to the students and residents of Rocky Point.  

Helene Bowler, Kevan Bowler and Michael Bowler. Photo from Bowler family

Helene Bowler rarely missed a lacrosse game at Rocky Point and was the anchor of support toward the entire Bowler family. Like her husband, she can quickly describe the players, teams, and games that her husband coached, since he established this program.  

 “Mike loved everything about the game of lacrosse — the skill, the speed, the plays and strategies, the physicality,” she said. “He loved the challenge and excitement of being a coach and considered it an honor and a privilege to mentor these young men at Rocky Point.” 

All the Bowler kids played lacrosse on the college level, they all coached their own teams and children, and three of the boys are teachers and administrators. Bowler’s third oldest son, Kevan, connected lacrosse to the makeup of his parents and said, “I know many schools or programs like to think of themselves as a family, but I know that my dad, with the help and patience of my mom, looked after his team as if they were part of the family. Whether that meant trying to keep them on the right path academically, asking my mom to help wash the uniforms so the team looked sharp or trying to find the best possible college fit for them, lacrosse was not just a spring sport to him.” 

Since their earliest days of growing up in Hicksville, Bowler was a beloved brother to his siblings. His younger sister Meg Malangone, of Lake Grove, described her brother as being, “protective, caring and gentle. I could always talk to him and he always had time for me, even if I was being an annoying younger sister. When my husband died suddenly, Mike was there to share the load — helping with my kids, whether talking sports, watching movies and just laughing with them.”  

Stephanie Bowler described her brother as being “an unsung hero who was always in the background, waiting to be of assistance to anyone in need, great or small. No one was beyond his notice or care. Others always came first, be it a family member, student, athlete, community member or even a stranger.” 

A lasting impression was made on his fellow teachers who have long retired from Rocky Point. Vincent Basileo was an American history teacher who vividly remembered Bowler speaking to the students on a class trip to Quebec.  

“We were in a historic church and Mike had the students mesmerized through his description of the religious artifacts that these young men and women were learning about,” Basileo said.  

For 25 years, Bruce Mirabito taught and coached next to Bowler.  He saw his friend as being a “goal-orientated man who always led by example within all of his endeavors.”  

High school guidance facilitator, Matthew Poole, was a young counselor who worked closely with Bowler handling the administrative tasks for the junior high students within the mid-1990s.  Poole watched as “Bowler disciplined and advised students to help them find better decision-making.  

He was also a man who understood the college recruiting process to help his players enroll into the best possible schools.”   

Athletic director, Charles Delargy, often spoke with Bowler, where these two “Irishmen” enjoyed each other’s company.

Delargy believed that “Bowler was a true professional and gentlemen.  I was very lucky to have him as a good friend.”  

Longtime athletic secretary, Rose Monz, had the routine of seeing Bowler and said, “Never has there been a kinder gentleman. A man with old-fashioned values with a faith strong enough for everyone. I think of Mike every day for many different reasons — for the kids who seem lost, for his kindness and generosity to all the secretaries. And most of all,  I miss Mike for just being Mike.” 

It is impossible to put a number on the players who participated on the lacrosse teams since Bowler’s first competitive year in 1978.   

 “As a player of his and then watching as a fan as he coached two of my sons, he never lost the passion or dedication that he had for not only his teams, but all of the kids coming up,” said Peter LaSalla, a 1982 Rocky Point graduate. “He is missed greatly.”   

John Fernandez praised Bowler, too. 

“He treated his players with respect and wanted to get the best out of them,” Fernandez said. “He loved the game and studied it to be the best possible coach.”   

Michael Muller, a 2010 graduate, was a pallbearer for his beloved coach who helped him get him accepted to Dartmouth College.  According to Muller, “The world needs more people like Mike Bowler. He changed the course of my life and countless others for the better.  His legacy will live on forever.” 

For years, entire neighborhoods have been tied to the Rocky Point lacrosse program. Nicky and Vin Loscalzo graduated in 2011 and 2012 and they grew up with several boys living next to their home. Nicky always laughed when Bowler jokingly yelled at the six boys who made up the “Dana Court Crew.”

Kevin Fitzpatrick was a “crew” member who wanted to thank Bowler “for always teaching me to hold myself accountable for my mistakes and to have pride in the things I work hard at.”  

Nicky LoManto, a 2005 graduate, said, “Bowler provided an outstanding environment for student athletes that emphasized teamwork, respect for opponents and personal life skills for life.” 

During the unveiling, Chris Nentwich spoke about the difficulties of leaving Rocky Point to coach his own son and being away from the presence of Bowler. 

Dave Murphy touched on the loyalty of Bowler and thanked his family for allowing all of us to have special moments with him.  

James Jordan addressed the sincere messages that people wrote when they learned Bowler was named a lacrosse national coach of the year.   

Family friend and a lacrosse coach Brian Buckley spoke of Bowler’s knowledge and how he always loved to talk about his sport. Rocky Point lacrosse coach Tom Walsh cherished his moments with Bowler and would like to carry on many of his traditions within this school.   

And Rocky Point lacrosse senior captain, Reilly Orlando, mentioned he is one of three brothers who all played for Coach Bowler.  

 It is not easy to speak about a loved one who has passed away but, when it is about Michael P. Bowler, his legacy is easy to address and will be difficult to duplicate.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College. 

Locals Look Back on RP Teacher, Coach, Administrator and Icon

Michael Bowler, middle, was renowned as a RP lacrosse coach. Photos from Rich Acritelli

By Rich Acritelli

Just recently, Rocky Point Union Free School District lost the wonderful presence of longtime teacher, coach, advisor and administrator Michael Bowler, who passed away Dec. 1.  This legendary coach of 47 years had accumulated 447 wins as the only lacrosse coach Rocky Point had ever known. While Bowler was always a notable figure who taught, coached and mentored the students of the school, his unique background of honor, service, kindness and loyalty was established some 72 years ago.

Michael Bowler in his early days. Photo from Rich Acritelli.

Bowler was born Feb. 14, 1947, to Paul and Marie Bowler. He was raised in Hicksville with his brother Kevin and his two sisters Meg and Stephanie. During World War II, his dad was a Marine Corps fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific, where he was able to fly near one of the greatest baseball hitters of all time, Boston Red Sox icon Ted Williams. After the war, the senior Bowler was involved in business and his mother was an elementary school teacher. As a kid, Bowler attended Catholic school, where he loved playing football and basketball. Since religion has been a cornerstone of this family, Bowler served as an alter boy at St. Ignatius Elementary School. Later, Bowler attended St. Dominic’s High School in Oyster Bay. He was a four-year honor student, a featured running back on the football team and a major leader on the golf squad. His most crowning achievement was meeting his high school sweetheart and later wife, Helene, at the age of 16. Just recently, they renewed their wedding vows for their 50th wedding anniversary.

In 1965, Bowler graduated from high school and moved on to King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He studied history and education and was later a vice president of the student council and the president of the senior class. Shortly after graduating, he married Helene on Aug. 23, 1969, and was quickly hired as a social studies teacher at St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip where he taught history and theology. It was there Bowler began his lifelong passion of coaching, starting with the  junior varsity football team. In this rather busy time, Bowler enlisted in the New York Army National Guard for six years. Since his youth he was always in leadership positions, so it was no surprise that Bowler became a heavy truck operator and a platoon sergeant within a motor company. It was at this time Bowler and his wife welcomed their oldest son Brendan into the family Aug. 19, 1972.

In 1973, Bowler was hired at Rocky Point High School,where he continued teaching social studies and was offered a coaching position in lacrosse, a position that would shape the rest of his life. While Bowler was a well-rounded athlete, lacrosse was a new game for him. For the rest of his life, Bowler was always a student of a sport that saw him evolve into one of the finest high school coaches in New York. Bowler grew into a major faculty member that was in charge of the social studies department and was a senior class adviser who organized major trips to Montreal, Canada, and to Walt Disney World in Florida. He ran school dances, the battle of the classes, the senior picnic, prom and dinner from 1976 to 1995 and 2002 to 2003. For a decade, he also coached the varsity girls cross-country team. Bowler ran with his team and demonstrated a strong flair for pushing his students to do well at long-distance running. Like that of lacrosse, he was a devoted leader that had won several league titles and a coach of the year award from 1978 to 1988.

Michael Bowler, middle, was renowned as a RP lacrosse coach. Photos from Rich Acritelli

By 1985, the Bowler family grew to three more boys through the addition of Sean, Kevan and Michael All of them attended school at Infant Jesus in Port Jefferson before moving onto St. Anthony’s in Huntington. On top of his busy teaching and coaching schedule, to earn extra money for his family Bowler delivered beer, moved people’s homes and even transported libraries within the city and Long Island to different locations. At night, Bowler went back to school at C.W. Post to earn his administrative degree. He was quickly promoted as an assistant principal at Rocky Point middle and high schools. Armed with a big smile and a can-do attitude, Bowler was responsible for discipline, hiring teachers, scheduling staff and students and being a constant presence at all school functions.  He mentored teachers like Brooke Bonomi to constantly support the students around him within every imaginable task and activity.  Often, when one observed Bowler’s desk, it was often messy and full of papers dealing with every possible concern that can occur within a school. Even as he held an administration position, Bowler continued to coach the lacrosse team, where he had a positive impact inside and outside of this school.  

After several years of working with younger athletes, establishing intramural programs, and coaching the junior varsity team, by 1978 his squad had its first full varsity season. With an energetic demeanor, Bowler instructed a green group of athletes toward attaining an 11-8 record. This was the start of many outstanding decades that saw the Rocky Point Eagles be one of the finest programs within their league, county and on Long Island. In 1985, after several years of hard work, the Eagles captured their first county title. Bowler reached the pinnacle of success within the sport, as he eventually guided his players to a 2008 New York State Championship. For all of his devotion, Bowler was awarded numerous coaches of the year awards through his league and county and he was honored with being the Man of the Year in sports through Times Beacon Record and the local Rotary Club. 

In 2014, Rocky Point lost a hard fought game to Lynbrook, where the team came extremely close to making it to the state tournament. Ever the master communicator, Bowler made a detailed speech about the strengths of this group and the importance of giving their all to a contest and still being proud of themselves, even when some goals are not achieved. John Fernandez was a 1996 graduate of Rocky Point, a member of the West Point lacrosse team and close confidant of Bowler. He was severely wounded during the Second Gulf War in Iraq. This talented player openly recalled Bowler “never screamed or belittled a player, lost his cool or uttered profanity on the field. His success in coaching has come from his ability to encourage and get players to ask the most from themselves, not from others.”

Over the years the incredibly personable man established solid relationships with college coaches all over this nation. His “boys” played on every athletic college level at schools like Albany, Adelphi, Brown, Colgate, Dartmouth, Delaware, Hofstra, Manhattan, Stony Brook, Towson, Trinity, Wagner and Wesleyan. In larger numbers, his players served in the armed forces as they played within every service academy team. It is said Rocky Point has more captains that lead the West Point team than any other high school in America. Rocky Point guidance counselors Matt Poole and Jimmy Jordan always marveled at Bowler’s ability to fully understand the college recruiting and admissions process. For decades, Bowler drove his students on numerous trips in New England and the East Coast. Often the case, he quietly took money out of his own pocket for the sake of his players. Just this past year alone, former Rocky Point standout Peter LaSalla was a freshman and faceoff man on the University of Virginia lacrosse team. This local kid that just played for Bowler was a key member of a team that recently won the 2019 National Championship.

It is with a heavy heart that Rocky Point school district mourns the difficult loss of an individual that always made time for his family, friends, students and players. Even as he retired from his administrative position in 2004, Bowler continued to coach lacrosse until his declining health conditions forced him to retire from this position. Bowler leaves behind the love of his best friend Helene who spent countless hours at the school rooting for his teams, along with his three boys Brendan, Kevan and Michael. There is undoubtedly a special place in heaven for Bowler who is surely united with his second oldest son Sean, who passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease, otherwise known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2005. The family loved Sean’s girlfriend Adena Herskovitz, who as she was attending Yale Law School had taken care of him after he was diagnosed with ALS. While the Bowler’s are dominated by all boys, Adena truly represented the lone daughter of this family. As with Sean, Adena was recently at the bedside of Bowler to ensure that he was properly receiving the correct medical attention at Sloan Kettering in Manhattan.

Like that of Brooklyn native and Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who was a devout Catholic, teacher, coach, mentor and loyal member of his church, Bowler truly resembled the traits of this historic figure, of living his life for the love of his family, God and the Rocky Point Eagles. For decades, Bowler was a major member of the Infant Jesus Parish in Port Jefferson where he could be seen assisting with the weekly and Sunday Masses. At times, it is my custom to speak with Father Francis Pizzarelli of Hope House and Infant Jesus. With a big smile, Father Frank always described the devotion of Bowler who always enhanced others within his church and team. The priest recalled how Bowler even coached his family members. Always with a hectic schedule, Bowler and his wife took care of a special needs young man and his home over the last several years. Never did the Bowlers ever seek any type of attention for always putting others first — it was not their way. From his youngest moments, Bowler and his family “selflessly” aided others with a tremendous smile, kindness and heart.

Up until his death, Bowler dearly loved his family, team, community and church. He leaves behind a “tribe” of six grandsons, who he was immensely proud of seeing during his visits to Massachusetts and Colorado. Like that of his players, he followed their every lacrosse movements and was happy that they were all well-rounded student-athletes. In the summers, the family vacationed on Block Island where they looked forward to being together. While lacrosse was always a passion for Bowler, the athletic tradition has been passed onto all of his sons, who were all tough college players that later became high school coaches. His two older grandsons are devoted students who are currently playing for Duke University and Marist College. At a gathering that was held at the Bowler home after the cemetery services, the younger grandsons were running around the house with their football helmets on. They were catching passes from Bowler’s brother Kevin in the backyard of his home.  Like their grandfather, they flashed a brilliant smile as they were running around and tackling each other.  

At this sad time, as the Bowler family came together and at several points during this trying week, they could be heard laughing at colorful memories of this unique man.  At the church service at Infant Jesus Church in Port Jeffeson, his younger son, Michael, soundly recalled the dynamic ways and “quirks” of his father that had given so much to all those around him. It was hard to find a seat or place to stand as family members, neighbors, friends, current and former teachers, players and coaches all gave a final goodbye to a person that garnered so much affection. And these accounts that were creatively stated by Michael produced a large roar of laughter from the crowd. Each in turn  easily recalled the genuine ways of this former husband, parent, family member, educator, coach, church member, neighbor and veteran.

At the final wake services, where there were close to a thousand people that stood on line to share the numerous positive qualities of Bowler, 2010 high school graduate Michael Muller addressed the true meaning of this man. In front of a packed house, Muller, a graduate and a lacrosse player from Dartmouth College, said his life would have been vastly differently if it was not for the constant presence and guidance of “Coach Bowler.” Muller echoed the sentiments of this North Shore community that truly appreciated the dedication of Michael P. Bowler, who always looked to enhance the school district. 

The life of this “Renaissance man” could be summed up through the words of Lombardi who told his own players, “Once a man has made a commitment to a way of life, he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him.  It’s something we call heart power.  Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop short of success.”  

Through all of his amazing deeds to his family and school, Bowler has surely lived up to a high benchmark of excellence on and off the field.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College.