Any organization that wishes to experience continued growth and improvement must have goals. Goals establish direction and purpose. They provide a place the organization and the individuals within, can aspire. Over the course of many years, the Wichita State Shocker bowling program has adopted some extremely important, yet basic, goals.
Every student who tries out for the Shocker bowling team needs to be actively pursuing a college degree. We are uninterested in attracting individuals who do not have the attainment of a degree as their highest priority. Academic activities come first in our program. It is not a coincidence that the students who bowl the best for our teams are our best students in the classroom. These individuals come to tryouts, team meetings, team workouts and on-lane training with their minds in order. They have attended all their classes, kept up with their studies, done well on tests and assignments, and have placed academics at the top of their priority list. These students usually have many goals for academics, bowling, and life. There is direction and purpose to their efforts.
In its purest form, our bowling program is nothing more than an additional, worthwhile activity to help “round-out” a student’s overall college experience. We want every student to be successful during his/her college years and thereafter. Unfortunately, not all students start college with the right attitude and skills to prepare them properly. Here is a short collection of considerations we feel are vital, especially for college freshmen, during the transition from high school to college. This list begins with the differences between high school and college, which we offer you in recognizing that change, at any time in our lives, can often be a difficult experience.
We feel it is important for new students to visualize some of the transitions and challenges that lie ahead. We encourage students to take part in this before arriving at school and tackling college-level work. In all reality, college isn’t for everyone. We strongly feel talented, young bowlers should hone their skills through college bowling but they must have sound academic skills and the desire to excel in their studies. Consider some of the information given above and then imagine combining academics with the WSU Shocker Bowling Program.
Bowlers in large numbers have come to this program from all around the globe. It is not uncommon for the program to consist of distinguished bowlers, both nationally and internationally. Many individuals are quickly surprised by the number of talented bowlers in the program. In some cases, this surprise can begin to change and turn into a consuming drive to bowl. Worse yet, it can become an obsession to make the team – at all costs. Unfortunately, with roughly 15 women and 40 men trying out annually, the majority of them will not be selected for our team.
Students need a successful game plan when entering a program like this. Each individual must strive for academic success in order to remain academically eligible for college bowling, and to protect themselves against possible rejection during the annual team selection. A student who does poorly in class creates a dangerous situation which could bring about failure in their bowling and/or personal affairs. At the same time, a student who does well in class usually bowls well on the lanes.
Visualizing and knowing what can happen in college before you go, can help prevent problems from occurring. The previous discussion is not meant to frighten any potential college-bound students. College is fun and fulfilling, but it is also challenging. New students need to know that it takes a balance of work and play to succeed.
Each bowler can expect to devote a minimum of 10 hours to bowling per week during the tryout process, which lasts 2-3 weeks. Tryouts are scheduled during mid-afternoon hours to try to work around class schedules. After tryouts, selected members will commit around 12 hours each week for team practice, individual/small group meetings, study hall, and individual bowling evaluations. Just as tryouts, all of these activities are generated around the student’s class schedules. All tryouts, meetings, educational bowling classes and team training is mandatory.
During the bowling season, collegiate tournaments are held on weekends. As a general rule, classes are not missed because of these competitions. Students who are selected to travel to these events will be given a quantity of information sheets to hand to their instructors in an effort to advise them of the bowler’s need to miss class for a university athletic event. However, this does not automatically excuse students from their academic obligations. Class obligations take precedence and instructors can enforce mandatory attendance in a class. If this happens, the coaching staff will select an additional bowler(s) to go to the tournament. Students can miss up to two days of classes for six fall semester “away” tournaments.
During the Spring semester, students can miss between two and nine days of class for tournament play. Again, an information sheet will be made up for each student to give to each instructor of an affected class.
Many individuals, who have been in the Shocker bowling program, have attained success in their personal lives. The following areas are preparatory and career goals of our program.
A. Team USA: A goal of our program is to encourage our bowlers to advance into the Team USA qualification process. The same idea goes for international students and their country’s national selection team process. Team USA competition can be a positive experience for a collegiate and/or young alumni bowler. Team USA can be viewed as a natural extension of college play. There is little doubt Team USA will be filled with both current and past collegiate bowlers. A partial list of the vast benefits a bowler gains as a Team USA member include:
1. Experience: The opportunity to bowl with top amateurs and professionals across the nation.
2. Free equipment: Team USA has arrangements with several equipment manufacturers that provide team members with an abundant supply of balls, bags, shoes, clothing and accessories.
3. International travel and competition: USBC (Team USA’s national governing body) provides ample financial and organizational support allowing team members to travel around the world. As least one overseas trip is conducted annually. Within a four-year collegiate career, a Team USA bowler may experience the following competitions:
a. American Zone Championships
b. Women’s World Championships
c. Men’s World Championships
d. World Games
e. World Cup
f. Tournament of the Americas
g. Pan American Games
h. World Youth Championships
i. American Zone Youth Championships
j. Other various international matches
4. Learning: Members of Team USA have the opportunity to work with Rod Ross, Team USA's head coach, at the Bowling International Training and Research Center in Arlington, Texas.
No greater thrill exists in the sport of bowling than to represent your country in international competition. Team USA positions are reserved for few elite athletes who are committed and dedicated to excelling at a higher performance level. It is said that the “rush” or “high” of purely positive experiences gained from being a Team USA member is a feeling that can change a person’s life forever.
B. PROFESSIONAL BOWLING: Another goal of our program is to encourage Shocker bowlers to advance to professional status. There is no question that professional players are constantly in the limelight and involved with media; therefore we feel that bowlers who actively compete in college gain valuable skills for the tour. College bowling can provide potential professional bowlers with mental preparation/development, changes in physical performances, advancements in maturity, experience in competitive situations, “people” skills, communication and team-building. Beyond all of these skills, the most important accomplishment collegiate bowlers can achieve to prepare themselves for tour is obtaining their degree. The professional tour desperately needs college graduates to enhance the tour’s image and improve the image of the sport of bowling. The tour is the “showplace” of our sport. Many college bowlers are becoming successful touring bowlers and it is our feeling that it will soon be a necessity to have a successful college bowling career in order to have a successful professional career.
C. JOB / OCCUPATION: Every student, whether their goal is professional bowling or not, will most likely need to look for an occupation, career or job to pay the bills but also provide interest and enthusiasm for a large part of their life. Another goal of ours is to see each participant become successful. Our program has helped individuals realize the hidden potential they possess.
Through experiencing team selection and participating in team activities, those individuals with a desire for personal growth have learned about themselves, broadened their perspectives, and enhanced their self-expression. These skills are not taught from a textbook, they are learned through the journey of the program. Many former team members have mentioned how beneficial the things they learned as a member of the WSU bowling program were in preparing them for their careers.
Success is not a part-time thing. If a person believes they are successful, they have this positive mindset in every aspect of their life. For bowlers in our program, especially those who earn a spot on the team, the opportunity exists to gain insight into what it means to be a successful bowler, team member and person. Some important components of success for an individual include; a healthy self-image, positive thinking, harmony, and happiness. Individuals are a product of their thought and what they think about throughout the day becomes reality for them.
Few participants of our bowling program have gone on to become successful national bowling tour professionals. Some have achieved this goal and others have tried, but have not been as successful as they may have wished. Those bowlers who didn’t gain the professional prominence they desired, still realize that they are successful. Success is a feeling within each person. Many of our bowling alumni have gone on to be successful businessmen, parents, spouses, and most importantly, people. Certainly the Shocker Bowling Program is not “bigger than life.” Our program simply provides many individuals with highly positive experiences that add to the college experience. For many, this comprehensive experience lends itself to creating positive personal changes that affect the person for the rest of their life.
We feel our intercollegiate bowling program at Wichita State University is the best in the country. We know it is crucial to the program that development remains at the top of our list of goals. In our continued attempt to be the best, we are constantly receptive to change and innovation. Our bowling program is continually looking for ways to improve.