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SHOCKER BOWLING

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Wichita State University campus like?

Q: Will my child need transportation at Wichita State?

Q: What should my child do to be ready for tryouts?

Q: Can competing in other sports help prepare my child for the Shocker Bowling Program?

Q: Can my child compete for cash or merchandise prizes and not jeopardize their collegiate eligibility?

Q: Is the Shocker Bowling Program NCAA recognized?

Q: How does my child receive scholarship aid?

Q: Is there a minimum academic standard for my child to compete on the Shocker Bowling Program?

Q: Has Wichita State had a left-handed bowler compete for them?

Q: I hear you have a tough discipline policy, what does that entail?

Q: What are the responsibilities of the student-athletes in the Shocker Bowling Program?

Q: Is my child going to fit in and feel like they are part of the program?

Q: Is it hard for freshman to make the Shocker Bowling Team?

Q: When are tryouts held?

Q: Why does my child have to pay a tryout fee in addition to their requirement to fundraise?

Q: How are the teams selected?

Q: Are returning team members shown favoritism?

Q: Should my child stay a youth bowler or should they move up to adult bowling?

Q: If my child is not selected to the team, what training opportunities are available to them?

Q: What if my child throws equipment other than your corporate sponsor?

Q: How does the Shocker Bowling Program train?

Q: How many hours in a typical week will be devoted to team activities/ training?

Q: Am I permitted to attend team practice sessions?

Q: I have coached my child their entire life, can I coach them during college competitions?

Q: As a parent of a WSU Shocker bowler how can I best assist the team?

Q: What are Shocker Bowling practices like?

Q: How is the playing strength of the Shocker team chosen?

Q: How far in advance can I find out if my child has been selected to travel to an event? Who tells me?

Q: Will the Shocker Bowling Program make travel arrangements for parents and family members?

Q: What differences can I expect to see between youth competitions and intercollegiate bowling competitions?

Q: How many class days will my child miss due to competition?

Q: Is the goal to win every competition?

Q: What is the focus of the program, individual success or team success?

Q: What do the coaches look for when selecting a lineup?

Q: What are the main duties of the coaching staff?

Q: At competitions how much time will I have to spend with my child?

Q: Does the program provide insurance for my child as part of the Shocker Bowling Team?

Q: What, if any costs, will my child incur on competitive trips?

Q: How does the Shocker Bowling Program travel to competitions?

Q: Do you recommend my child bowl in a league while going to school?


Q: What is the Wichita State University campus like?

Wichita State's 330 acre main campus is a community treasure. An abundance of trees, flowers and shrubs reflects all four seasons. Nearly 70 outdoor sculptures adorn campus. Hundreds of banners grace light poles, adding color to the landscape and reflecting the pride surrounding in the institution. The 18-hole, on-campus golf course is enjoyed by 40,000 visitors each year. Wichita State is also one of the 30 safest campuses of its size in the country. Great pride is taken in that outstanding safety record.

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Q: Will my child need transportation at Wichita State?

Student-athletes are not required to have personal transportation in order to attend classes. Freshmen at Wichita State are required to live on campus. Every building on campus is within walking distance from the dorms. Even though Kansas experiences all four seasons of weather, transportation is not a problem.

With regard to transporting bowling equipment back and forth from dorms, some student-athletes may need to seek assistance from other students or take advantage of university transportation available around campus. There are also lockers available in the Rhatigan Student Center (RSC)  to use for bowling equipment.

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Q: What should my child do to be ready for tryouts?

First, if they are not on some type of physical conditioning program, they should start. Don’t wait until tryouts to get in shape.

Secondly, they should bowl as much as possible. This practice should be on a regular basis, over a number of weeks, not just in the week leading up to tryouts. Their practice should be on a wide variety of lane conditions and lane surfaces. THEY SHOULD PRACTICE ON SPARE SHOOTING.

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Q: Can competing in other sports help prepare my child for the Shocker Bowling Program?

Absolutely. Bowling at the collegiate level is a highly competitive team sport. Unfortunately, youth bowling is still very individual. The program has seen those student-athletes with other sport experience, especially team sports, adapt quickly to college bowling resulting as an asset for the team. The skills of team play, coachability, communication, and selflessness are aspects most athletes learn while competing in team sports and continues to be sought after at the collegiate level.

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Q: Can my child compete for cash or merchandise prizes and not jeopardize their collegiate eligibility?

To remain eligible to bowl collegiately a student-athlete may not be a member of a professional bowling organization. They may bowl and compete in adult leagues and tournaments. As an adult USBC member, they may win cash or merchandise prizes.

Currently, the Wichita State University Bowling Program's women’s team is not affiliated with the university athletic department. As such, any NCAA restrictions do not apply.

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Q: Is the Shocker Bowling Program NCAA recognized?

No. Currently both the Shocker Bowling men’s and women’s teams are classified “independent varsity” sports. The coaching staff is supportive of the NCAA movement within college bowling.

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Q: How does my child receive scholarship aid?

Scholarship aid is available from not only the university, but also through the Shocker Bowling Program. Student-athletes wishing to be considered for scholarship aid through the bowling program need to complete a bowling scholarship application form in the spring prior to attending Wichita State and trying out for the bowling team. The deadline for submitting a bowling scholarship application is May 15.

The coaching staff will review the scholarship applications and award bowling program scholarships.

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Q: Is there a minimum academic standard for my child to compete on the Shocker Bowling Program?

Yes, a 2.25 GPA on all WSU hours is required for a student-athlete to be eligible to compete for the WSU Bowling Program. The 2.25 GPA is the requirement, but we expect our student-athletes to strive for and achieve a much higher academic standard. The Shocker Bowling Program academic standard is higher than the standard GPA of 2.0 allowed by USBC Collegiate.

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Q: Has Wichita State had a left-handed bowler compete for them?

Yes. Many outstanding left-handed bowlers have been members of the Wichita State bowling teams. Those student-athletes include;

Left-handed bowlers are the minority and can be rare to come by. The Shocker Bowling Program is always interested in finding and developing the best players it can to achieve success for each team.

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Q: I hear you have a tough discipline policy, what does that entail?

When attempting to organize a group of 20 or more individuals,rules and guidelines for all to follow are enforced to maintain order. Each student-athlete's main responsibilities are to believe-in and follow the philosophy of the program. The main components of the programs philosophy include a strong work/training ethic, loyalty to the program, and a desire to learn. In addition to those philosophy components, student-athletes need to have good listening skills and the ability to follow directions.

Occasionally instances may occur that require discipline to maintain the focus on the team. Discipline often includes loss of player privileges .

Student-athletes in the Shocker Bowling Program are expected to represent the university and their teammates in an outstanding manner.

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Q: What are the responsibilities of the student-athletes in the Shocker Bowling Program?

Student-athletes' main responsibilities are to believe-in and follow the philosophy of the program. The main components of the program’s philosophy are a strong work/training ethic, loyalty to the program, and a desire to learn.

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Q: Is my child going to fit in and feel like they are part of the program?

The bowling program prides itself with building teams that learn to work together. This entails bringing together each member of the team to achieve accomplishments and common goals. A team is always stronger when they are together; meaning everyone must be involved.

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Q: Is it hard for freshman to make the Shocker Bowling Team?

Freshman regularly make the selected team every year. The bowling program has had many freshman make the starting line-up for seasoned tournament play. Each player's skills, knowledge, attitude, and tryout statistics are considered by the coaching staff  when selecting players for the team.

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Q: When are tryouts held?

Tryouts are typically held over a two to three week period, early in the fall semester.

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Q: Why does my child have to pay a tryout fee in addition to their requirement to fundraise?

The tryout fee helps offset the $325,000 cost of running the bowling team. The bowling program has three ways of producing income; those of which include fundraising (the Strike-a-thon and Ball Giveaway), Rhatigan Student Center allocations (student fees), and player fees that every student-athlete pays by the end of the first week of tryouts. Player fees are a standard practice and necessary for the vast majority of college bowling programs. The program fee remains as one of the smallest player fees in the nation even though no other program comes close to offering the services Wichita State does.

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Q: How are the teams selected?

Various information is looked at to determine the selected teams. During the tryout process a number of statistics are recorded to give the coaching staff some objective data to help with their decision. Some of these statistics include; percentage of pocket hits, percentage of spares made, percentage of strikes carried, percentage of splits converted, average pin-fall on 1st ball, and game average.

Beyond all of the objective data, the coaching staff is also looking at other areas of importance such as teamwork, communication, attitude, past competitive history, and the student-athletes ability to get along and work with others.

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Q: Are returning team members shown favoritism?

The only difference for a returning team member going through the tryout and team selection process is that the coaching staff will have some personal experience and a working knowledge of the skills and attributes of that person. This can either be a positive or negative aspect with regard to the tryout and team selection process. Returning team members have an established level of skill and ability to which they are expected to maintain or improve upon during the off-season in order to be prepared for tryouts. This can be challenging for those members. 

It is not unusual for returning team members to fall short and miss the cut. Recent records show there has been at least one person every year who tries out after being on the team and does not make it the following year.

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Q: Should my child stay a youth bowler or should they move up to adult bowling?

That is typically an individual decision. If your child is actively bowling in a wide number of junior events, either locally, regionally, and/or nationally, they may be able to get enough competitive experience to aid their growth as a player. If however, the student-athlete is not getting enough competitive experience bowling junior events, it may be time to consider moving up to competing at the adult level.

The resources offered by the Shocker Bowling Program have been known to aid student-athletes in reaching the most elite level of youth bowling; usually in a short amount of time. Although this improvement varies with each player – it is important to realize that in order to compete collegiately –most players must strive to reach the competitive bowling level beyond college – elite amateur bowling. In recent years the highest level collegiate bowlers and teams have gained invaluable training by competing in adult levels of our sport. Finding ample competitive training opportunities is the key to this decision.

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Q: If my child is not selected to the team, what training opportunities are available to them?

It is important to note that the program contains student-athletes who are not selected their first or second year, but with a strong work ethic, improve and do eventually make the selected team. The importance of finding ways for those non-selected student-athletes to continue working and improving is crucial.

The Shocker Bowling Program has developed an Elite Skill Center in which all student-athletes have the opportunity to participate in. This Skill Center includes educational classes which cover a wide array of topics. Some of these topics include physical conditioning, professional bowling, lane play, ball dynamics, and the physical game. These classes are taught by the coaching staff as well as some outstanding presenters including Dean Hinitz, the Kegel Company, Rick Benoit and Fred Borden. Each of these presenters has recognition not only nationally, but internationally. They are experts in their field and it is a privilege and honor to have them as part of the educational sessions in the program's Elite Skill Center. 

In addition to the educational classes, the coaching staff will select a developmental team  from the non-selected players. This team gets the opportunity to bowl for WSU in a condensed season of regular collegiate tournaments. These tournaments are offered to developmental players to provide inspiration and motivation to continue practicing, working, and learning as to more quickly reach the selected team status. These student-athletes are welcome to use their free practice privileges on and off campus to continue their growth.

Student-athletes who are not selected for the team have the opportunity to take advantage of the corporate ball buying program. Wichita State's bowling equipment sponsor diligently works with the program to offer players the opportunity to purchase new balls at incredibly deep discounts. This program is a great chance for players to learn about using equipment as a key part of their adjustments.

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Q: What if my child throws equipment other than your corporate sponsor?

That is fine. Players are able to throw whatever equipment they want during tryouts. Even early during the competitive season not all of the new players have enough of the sponsor’s equipment to complete an arsenal. Although, at some point during the season players will eventually have enough equipment to only throw bowling balls provided by the program's sponsor.

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Q: How does the Shocker Bowling Program train?

The bowling program's regimen is a busy one.

First, team practice sessions are held Monday-Thursday, 2:30-5:30 p.m. During these sessions, the team works on skill development, adjustments, and competitive training. Team workouts are held in the last hour of practice. This exercise program is designed to improve the physical condition of the each team member allowing them to gain a competitive advantage in the long days of tournament play.

Second, each team member schedules a weekly individual evaluation session with Assistant Coach Mark Lewis, one of the greatest assistants in collegiate bowling history. These sessions are used to focus on improvements specific to each person. The latest technology, videos, and coaching techniques are used to assist each student athlete.

Third, student-athletes are part of regularly scheduled small team meetings. These meetings cover topics including leadership, teamwork, sport psychology, communication, goal setting, and various other items designed to strengthen the team.

Fourth, educational classes are provided by the Shocker Bowling Program. These classes cover various subjects which expose student-athletes to information and presenters that will help them with bowling as well as personal growth. No other bowling program conducts educational classes as the Shocker Bowling Program does.

The main component of determining the potential success of every student athlete is their level of commitment and independent work beyond the work required of them. The harder a student-athletes works, the more they will get out of the exceptional opportunities exposed by the program.

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Q: How many hours in a typical week will be devoted to team activities/ training?

Around 14 hours per week will be devoted to team activities and training. This estimate does not include any competitions on the weekends. The responsibilities harbored by student-athletes in the bowling program include;

Team practices: Monday-Thursday, 2:30-5:15 p.m. (11 hrs.)

Small Team Meetings: Once per week for 2 hours.

Coach Lewis 2-on-1 Evaluation Session: Once per week for 1 hour.

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Q: Am I permitted to attend team practice sessions?

Yes. Parents and friends are welcome to attend any team practice sessions. However, these are team practices where everyone's focus is needed especially for whatever skill or drill the team may be working on. Any conversations or discussions with either players or coaches should be limited to the time before or after practice.

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Q: I have coached my child their entire life, can I coach them during college competitions?

No. One of the main jobs of any team is to get everyone to work together; this is accomplished by have continuity. The team works together all year in practice, workouts, meetings and at tournaments. Comments and suggestions are welcomed, but they must go through the coaching staff. The communication between players and the coaches is crucial to the team and its success. By allowing each player to have their own coach, trust gets lost.

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Q: As a parent of a WSU Shocker bowler how can I best assist the team?

Support is the best way parents can assist the team. The participation of parents in fundraisers is crucial to the success of the bowling program. A great fundraiser conducted every year is the Strike-a-thon. The annual Strike-a-thon is the single largest fundraising event of the year, bringing in anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000. Prior to the Strike-a-thon, each bowler and their parents gather sponsors  who either donate a flat contribution or a pledge per strike. If donors wish to make a pledge, the minimum is $.10 per strike. On a designated date, all bowlers (assigned to squads throughout the day) will roll as many strikes as possible.  Each squad ends when the first bowler rolls 100 strikes. The bowler is then responsible for collecting all pledged money from each sponsor.

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Q: What are Shocker Bowling practices like?

Once the teams are selected, practice will be held Monday-Thursday 2:30-5:30 p.m. On-lane practice will be held during the first two hours, followed by workouts during the last hour. During the on-lane time, players work on skills including spare shooting, alignments, loft, ball speed, releases, lane play, and team play. This time together is an integral part of the program; it allows all of the team members to come together and evolve as a unit. 

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Q: How is the playing strength of the Shocker team chosen?

Records show that anywhere from 10-12 men and 10-12 women are chosen as members of the WSU bowling teams. USBC Collegiate allows a roster size of eight men and eight women to compete during tournaments throughout the year. Generally, the determination of who travels is based upon those individuals who work the hardest in practice and demonstrate a readiness to compete. The selected roster is determined at the discretion of the coaches.

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Q: How far in advance can I find out if my child has been selected to travel to an event? Who tells me?

Approximately two weeks is the time frame given for the announcement of selected traveling teams. Players are responsible for letting their family and friends know about team selections. Typically, the selection announcement is made to the players during practice.

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Q: Will the Shocker Bowling Program make travel arrangements for parents and family members?

No. The Shocker Bowling Program works diligently to allocate funds in the most efficient manner which does not include travel arrangements for members outside the coaching staff, selected team, and developmental team.

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Q: What differences can I expect to see between youth competitions and intercollegiate bowling competitions?

There are two main differences between junior and collegiate competition. The level of ability is significantly higher on the collegiate side. You may have already seen some of the college players at junior competitions. There are, however, a greater number of elite players at the college level.

A second difference is that youth competition is primarily individual, especially on the national scene with only a few style events. College bowling consists primarily of team competitions with a few individual events and awards coming from the team events. Working as a team to achieve a common goal is a very rewarding experience.

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Q: How many class days will my child miss due to competition?

Typically college bowling tournaments are conducted over weekends and holidays. This past year the teams missed six Fridays, two Thursdays, and one Wednesday. However, some students can schedule to have very few to no classes on Friday. Without classes on Friday, this type of schedule is not too much of a burden on student-athletes.

Student-athletes are not excused from any of their required classwork. It is up to each student-athlete to fulfill all requirements expected of them by their instructors. If that means handing in papers or taking tests prior to departing for competition, they must get it done.

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Q: Is the goal to win every competition?

Winning is a goal of every competition. One of the main goals from the start of the season is to prepare the teams for post-season play, which include the ITC Sectional Qualifier and USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships.

Another goal at the beginning of the season is for every player to improve. This means that teams must be selected for each competitive tournament. Selecting players allows each individual to gain competitive experience. In order to get better, players must be given the chance to compete. This exposure allows each player to improve.

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Q: What is the focus of the program, individual success or team success?

Individual success is a product of team success. The bowling program has seen an abundance of instances in which this statement rings true, hence the 210 All-Americans produced from the program. It is evident that each player's likelihood of being successful is increased when the team works together and learns from each other.

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Q: What do the coaches look for when selecting a lineup?

Each competitive event's lineup is selected at the discretion of the coaching staff. Generally, coaches will select the five players who are best matched up to the lane condition and are ready to play. Each team member is reminded to help the other teammates increase his/her pinfall by 10 pins a game rather than just improving their own score.

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Q: What are the main duties of the coaching staff?

The Shocker Bowling coaching staff has divided the responsibilities in a way that allows all 20-24 team members to continue improving their game while still getting other tasks accomplished.

Administrative duties are carried out by Head Coach Gordon Vadakin. Along with administrative duties, Vadakin manages small team meetings in which sports psychology, team play, leadership, and other mental dynamics are discussed.

Assistant Coach Mark Lewis is responsible for team training and on-lane conditioning. This includes team and individual practice times.

Both world renowned coaches work with the teams during collegiate competitions.

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Q: At competitions how much time will I have to spend with my child?

The amount of time will vary depending on the competition. College bowling tournaments can be very demanding on student-athletes, leaving minimal time for additional activities. It is not unusual for a tournament schedule to consist of practice at 7:30 a.m., start at 8 a.m., and finish at 5 p.m. Team meetings are usually held each night between competition days.

If included in the tournament schedule, lunch and dinner times are the best options for student-athletes to spend time with their families. Before leaving with family members, student-athletes must check with one of the coaches for approval. 

Demanding schedules sometimes leave little time for student-athletes to meet with family members. Keep this in mind as you make plans.

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Q: Does the program provide insurance for my child as part of the Shocker Bowling Team?

The Shocker Bowling Program provides secondary medical health insurance for members of the selected teams. All student-athletes participating in the program are required to have primary medical health insurance coverage. This could be coverage provided by a policy with their parents or one they may have themselves. A student medical health insurance policy is also available through the Student Health Department on the Wichita State University campus.

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Q: What, if any costs, will my child incur on competitive trips?

The Shocker Bowling Program will cover the cost of travel, lodging, uniforms, and entry fees. In addition to those expenses the program will provide a modest per diem to each student-athlete to help offset their food expenses during the duration of the trip. Anything in addition to those items mentioned are the responsibility of the student-athletes. Occasionally, the program will pay for additional practice or ball work at a competition site.

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Q: How does the Shocker Bowling Program travel to competitions?

In the past, bowling teams have traveled by van, charter bus, and aircraft. The travel distance will often dictate which method of travel is used for competitions. Safety is also one of the most significant factors in deciding travel methods.

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Q: Do you recommend my child bowl in a league while going to school?

Bowling in a league during the school year is not necessary. In fact, we encourage our student- athletes to spend much of their free time training. Often student-athletes believe that bowling in league is like practice when in reality it is not. More can be accomplished when someone can work on repeating a specific skill. In a league you are not able to throw 10 or more consecutive shots at a 10 pin, if you expect to score well.

Ideally, one league would suffice for the student-athlete to work on competitive routines and other skills that would be used in collegiate competitions.

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