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 to. 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 varsity bowling team needs to be actively pursuing a college degree. In fact, the WSU Shocker Bowling Program is not inter¬ested in attracting individuals who do not have the attainment of a degree ¬as their highest priority. Academic activities come first in our bowling program. It is not a coincidence that the students who bowl the best for our teams are also our best students. These individuals come to try-outs, team meetings, team workouts and on-lane training with their minds in order. They've attended all of their classes, kept up with their studies, done well on their tests and assignments, and have placed academics at the top of their personal priority list. These students usually have many goals for academics, bowling, and life. There is direction and purpose to their efforts. Another characteristic of the successful student-athlete is a high level of self-esteem. Successful students do well in classes because they believe in themselves.
In its purest form, the Shocker Bowling Program at Wichita State is nothing more than an additional, worthwhile activity to help round-out a student's overall college experience. The bowling program wants every student to be successful during his/her college years and entire life. Unfortunately, not all students start college with the right attitude and skills to prepare them properly and should understand that college is very different from your typical high school classes.
It is probably safe to say that college isn't for everyone. Although we feel strongly that talented, young bowlers should hone their skills through college bowling; 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 literally all across the U.S., and even overseas. It is not uncommon to have many, many incoming bowlers who have rightfully earned the title of being the "best" bowler in their city, county, state, or region. Some have even distinguished themselves nationally or internationally.
Many people are quickly surprised by the number of very talented bowlers in the program. Usually there's more talent assembled in the bowling program than they have ever seen together at any one time in their life. In some cases, this surprise can begin to change and turn into a consuming drive to bowl – to bowl well, and to make the team Worse yet, it can become an obsession, an obsession to make the team at all costs. However, the cold, hard fact is with roughly 40 men and 20 women annually participating, the majority of them will not be selected for our team.
Entering a program like this, a student needs a successful game plan. He/she must strive for academic successes in order to not only remain academically eligible for college bowling, but also to protect themselves against possible personal rejection during the annual team selection. A student who does poorly in class creates a dangerous situation which may bring about failure in their personal affairs or with their bowling. But, by the same token, a student who does well in class usually bowls well for us on the lanes. It's that simple.
As previously stated, knowing or visualizing what can happen in college before you go can help prevent problems from occurring. The above discussion is not meant to frighten any potential college-bound students. College is fun and very fulfilling, but it is also very challenging and new students need to know that it takes a balance of work and play to succeed.
Following the team success our student-athletes may have, many of the people in the program move on to success in their own personal lives. The following areas are preparatory and career goals of our program.
A goal of our program is to encourage our bowlers to advance into the Team USA qualification process, or if an international students, their own country’s national selection team process. Team USA competition can be an incredibly positive experience for a collegiate or young alumni bowler. In some ways, Team USA is a natural extension of college play, and there is little doubt the future of 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 includes:
1. Experience – bowling with the top amateurs across the nation.
2. International travel and competition – USBC (Team USA's national governing body) provides ample financial and organizational support to allow Team USA members to travel around the world. Usually, at least one overseas trip is con-ducted annually. Within a four-year college career, a bowler might experience the following competitions:
a. Pan American Bowling Confederates 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. Pan American Bowling Confederation Youth Championships
j. Various International ‘friendship’ matches
3. Learning – Each year, Team USA spends at least one week at the International Training and Research Center in Arlington, Texas at the USBC headquarters working with the Team USA coaching Staff.
4. National travel and competition – Team USA members are offered spots in the U.S. Open tournament, the USBC Masters, and the USBC Queens Tournament.
No greater thrill exists in the sport of bowling than to represent your country in international competition. Team USA positions are reserved for a few elite athletes, committed and dedicated to excelling at a higher performance level. 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.
Another goal of our program is to encourage Shocker bowlers to advance to professional status. There is no question that a professional player is constantly in the limelight and involved with the media. As such, we feel strongly that bowlers who compete actively in college gain valuable skills for the tour, such as: mental preparation/development, changes in their physical performances, advancements in maturity, experience in competitive situations, dealing with the media and a tremendous amount of "people" skills, such as communication and team-building.
Beyond all of these skills, the most important thing collegiate bowlers can do for themselves to prepare for the tour is to get their degrees. The Professional Bowlers Associate and the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PBA & PWBA) desperately needs college graduates to not only enhance the tour's image, but to improve the image of the sport of bowling. The PBA and PWBA tours are the "showpiece" of our sport. More and more college bowlers are becoming successful touring bowlers and it is our feeling that very soon it will be an absolute necessity to have a successful college bowling career in order to have a successful professional career.
Unless a student becomes a successful professional bowler, he/she must look towards an occupation, career or job that will not only help pay the bills, but also provide interest and enthusiasm for a large part of their life. A goal of the WSU bowling program is to see each of its participants become successful. Oftentimes, our program has helped individuals realize the hidden potential they possess.
Through the experiences of team selection, tournament season activities and workout sessions, those bowlers with a desire for personal growth can learn more about themselves. They can broaden their perspectives on what a team is (bowling team, work team, family team, etc.), how to plan and program goals (athletic, personal, academic, etc.) and how to express themselves (communicating with teammates, fellow workers, family, etc.). Although many of these skills are not taught from a textbook, 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 knows and feels that they are successful, they sense that they are a success at everything they do. For bowlers in our program, especially those who earn a spot on one of the teams, the opportunity exists for the astute person to gain insights into what it means to be a successful bowler, team member and person. Some important components of success for an individual are: a healthy self-image, positive thinking, harmony and happiness. The knowledgeable bowler, student or person knows that they are a product of their thoughts and what they think about all day long, every day becomes reality for them. Furthermore, they know they can choose what they want to think about.
Very few of the bowlers in our program have actually gone on to become successful national touring PBA members. Certainly some have achieved this goal, and others have tried and have not been as successful as they might have wished. But those bowlers who perhaps didn't gain the professional prominence they desired, for the most part, still realize that they are successful. Success is a feeling within each person. Many of our bowling alumni have gone on to become very successful business people, parents, spouses, bowlers and most importantly, people. Certainly the Shocker Bowling Program is not bigger than life. Our program simply provides, to many people, a highly-positive experience that incorporates itself into a very successful overall college experience. For many student-bowlers, this comprehensive experience lends itself to creating positive personal changes that affect that person for the rest of their life.
Simply put, we feel the intercollegiate bowling program at Wichita State is the best in the country. We feel we have the track record to back up that statement. Even though this sounds like a matter of record, we also know that this continued growth and development has to be a current and future goal. 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 itself.