Students Revive Women’s Club Bowling Team
Bowling is not for the faint of heart — just ask any of the bowlers on the newly-revived Penn State Women’s Club Bowling Team.
Seven students showed interest in restarting the women’s club team this year after a four-year hiatus. Team members Sirena Rowland (pictured below, middle) and Megan Huhn (pictured below, to Rowland’s right) are both longtime bowlers, bowling through their youth into high school and now college. Both women hope to get the team registered as a NCAA division team within the next two years, in addition to gaining more members to get the team back to its former status.
The women’s bowling team was once a NCAA team and did quite well in tournaments. During the 2009-10 season, its most recent, it came out on top in its first three tournaments, then placed fourth in both the fourth and fifth tournaments. The ladies on this team also won individual awards for high average and high series.
The current women’s bowling team practices three times a week at Northland Bowl on North Atherton Street next to the Arena Bar and Grill. The players practice for about three hours and focus on getting certain pins or spares, while working on perfecting shots on a sport shot pattern. Sport shots, Rowland said, are the oil patterns placed on the lanes for tournaments that affects the way the ball moves.
The travel team consists of five members who bowl individual games on the Saturday of a tournament weekend. Sunday’s game is a “baker” game, in which the five players will bowl individual frames of a single game. Rowland said they have a system — team member Mariana Capizzi will normally start off the tournament so it gets ahead in the standings, while Huhn and Rowland will be fourth and fifth to bring the team back in case they are falling behind in points, to ensure that the team locks up the win.
Huhn said the team performed well in the first tournaments of the season, even though they had to compete against male teams, as there were no female teams at the tournament. This has occurred multiple times this season, as most of the women’s teams are NCAA-registered and playing in NCAA tournaments — just one more reason why the Penn State ladies want to get the NCAA division status as soon as possible.
With 16 teams at the first tournament, the women’s team came in 13th place, which it was happy about.
“We at least wanted to beat one team, so it was nice not to come in last place,” Huhn said.
Rowland is no stranger to bowling with the boys; she was part of the men’s club team last year. The men’s team is very competitive, but the team didn’t exclude Rowland; they embraced her because both teams are a family, she said. Though the experience was great for her, she said, “You can only do so much as a female in a male division.”
“It was fun bowling with the boys, but I wasn’t bowling with people at the same level with me,” Rowland said.
Rowland said she is happy there is a women’s team now because that she can play with others at the same experience level and earn individual and team awards, something she couldn’t do on the men’s team. The top three teams in a tournament receive awards, and individual players can receive awards for high game, average, and series.
Coach James Tierney, lecturer of economics, came in late this season to help out both the men’s and women’s club teams, but eventually ended up taking over the women’s team. He said practices normally consist of one-on-one coaching with the team, which is useful for bowlers of any experience. Men’s club bowling team coach Bob Baldwin also helps out, as the men’s team practices with the women’s team.
As one of almost 70 club teams, the women’s team is open to anyone to join. Tierney said dues to join are $75. The fee includes any fees for practice at Northland Bowl as well as the sanction fee.
Coach Tierney expressed the difficulty of only having seven active members on the team, because as soon as two or three members have conflicts with tournaments, it usually means the team can’t participate.
Despite this, Tierney said the team is focusing on keeping stamina up. The team bowls six games in one day during tournament weekends, so it can be exhausting for the travel team. Tierney also wants the ladies to work on remaining positive during tournaments. The oil patterns are not easy to bowl on, he said, which can be frustrating.
“It’s a lot like golf,” he said. “It’s all mental — you have to hit the same shot over and over again.”
Huhn (pictured above, at practice) agreed, adding that because it’s more mental, some people don’t recognize bowling as a sport. Bowling is also a unique sport, she said, because not many play it anymore.
“When you think sports, you think football, not bowling,” she said. “There’s got to be more people that bowl, especially on a campus of almost 40,000 people.”