IHHS Jake Willis - Athlete of the Week

Indian Hills Jake Willis Named Athlete of the Week
Posted on 12/22/2022
Indian Hills Jake Willis Named Athlete of the Week

So you think you had a busy week?

This was last week's AFTER-school schedule for Jake Willis of Indian Hills:

Monday: Varsity hockey game at the Ice Vault in Wayne

Tuesday: Varsity bowling match at Holiday Bowl in Oakland

Wednesday: Pasta Party for the Indian Hills hockey team, followed by a practice with his club hockey team, Cutting Edge of Elmwood Park

Thursday: Bowling match at Bowler City in Hackensack followed by a quick trip home to Oakland for a quick Chick-Fil-A sandwich and a high school hockey practice at the Ice vault.

Friday: Off! (a rarity)

Saturday: Club hockey game

Sunday: High school hockey game vs. Ramsey at the Ice Vault.


"It's not a real problem for me," Willis said. "I just get in the car and go to the next place.''

Thank you, mom and dad.

Willis, who starts at right wing on the Indian Hills hockey team, is the beneficiary of an NJSIAA rule that allows golfers and bowlers to compete in two sports at the same time. Indian Hills bowling coach Mike Michels said he has had several of those athletes in recent years and marvels at Willis' ability to excel in both at the same time.

"After every match or practice, he usually has to leave and go straight to the Ice Vault for practice or a game," Michels said. "Being able to juggle this schedule along with school is extremely challenging but he does it well."

"I still think of hockey as my primary sport since I've played for six or seven years, but my dad was pushing me to join the bowling team last year because he thought it would be fun," Willis said. "He was right."

Willis had bowled in the occasional family outing or birthday party before, but he and some friends took advantage of a nationwide program for kids under 18 called "Kids Bowl Free!" starting in August of 2021, getting two free games a day at Holiday Bowl in Oakland. And he just kept going - almost every day.

He found instant success, averaging 186 for the Braves last season. Michels says Willis was hard on himself at first, but as he's gotten better at the sport, his demeanor has also improved.

"He comes in every day with a smile on his face and he's really enjoying himself," Michals said. "He's a large part of the reason we're off to such a good start." The Braves are 26-2 in the Big North Patriot after a sweep of Westwood on Dec. 21.

Unlike most bowlers and hockey players, Willis doesn't watch much of either sport on television, although he says his favorite bowler is young American superstar Anthony Simonsen. But he's a huge football fan and wears his Eagles sweatshirt as often as he can to practices and matches.

"I'm pretty boring," Willis said. "When I have free time I just like to chill out and listen to some music."

In between trips to the rink and the bowling alley, he may not have much time to listen.

Jake Willis

Sport: Bowling

School: Indian Hills

Class: Junior. Age: 16

Accomplishment: Jake led all bowlers in the Big North the first week, averaging 223 over 6 games including a career best 268 single game and 704 series against Mahwah. He threw a 635 series against River Dell in his first visit to Bowler City as the Braves won both matches. 

Link to North Jersey.com