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. Here is a short collection of considerations surrounding the adjustment from high school to college and other thoughts that we feel are vital, especially for college freshmen. Since change at any part of life can be traumatic, the list highlights a few of the major changes between high school and college.
* Time management in high school is often easier than in college. Students usually have set schedules and more time for activities outside of class, less homework.
* Personalized or ‘homogenized’ instruction – students are given lots of personal attention and in a short time, know what an instructor expects of them.
* Education is geared toward a classroom environment, rather than outside studying and homework due to the large amounts of time spent in class. Grades are sometimes based on effort rather than other measurable standards of performance.
* Parents may help students stay on track or demand the completion of homework and provide security.
* Friendships have developed, perhaps since grade school, which help satisfy social and interpersonal needs.
* Schedules are much more flexible in college. Classes may be held daily, weekly, two or three times a week. Students may have breaks between classes of one or more hours and may even chose to take classes in the evening.
* Colleges are big places with many buildings spread out over acres of land. It is sometimes tough to get to the next class with only a few minutes in between.
* Teaching styles of instructors range all over. Some classes are huge lectures (200+ students), some instructors give very little personal attention and some instructors may rely on books and lecture notes to guide their class. Instructors may be old, young, male, female, graduate students, foreign, excellent or very challenging. Grading systems may vary between classes and it may be difficult to know how to prepare for exams and assignments.
* Learning is left up to the student. Class structure consists mainly of lectures, with a lot of homework and studying expected to be done outside of class. Instructors care little about efforts - just results (grades on exams, assignments, etc.). Students can count on two to three hours of study time outside of class for each hour spent in class.
* Sometimes the absence of parental guidance sounds great to the student, but it also means a lack of security, support, parental direction and supervision.
* Residence halls provide close living quarters with many other students, possibly including a roommate and two suite mates, all sharing one restroom.
* New friendships are formed. Usually, too many friends become the concern, with subtle or not-so-subtle, peer pressure to participate in social activities which compete for your available time.
* There is a lot of freedom. Students are their own bosses, in control of their own time and able to make more of their own choices. Because of all the fun things to do, students are misled into believing college is easy, in addition to being fun, but...
* Things aren't easy in college. Almost overnight, students are expected to become tremendous time managers, be mature and incredibly responsible. This must occur quickly in a totally new environment, with new friends, in a dormitory situation, with undiscovered levels of study and preparation outside of the classroom.
As the above examples show, we feel it is important, especially for new students, to visualize some of the transitions and challenges that lie ahead of them before tackling college-level work. 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 trying out annually, 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.
Fall Semester – Each bowler can expect to devote a minimum of 10 hours weekly to the tryout process, which normally last 2-3 weeks. After tryouts, selected members will be committed to around 16 hours weekly of team practices, workouts, individual/small group meetings, study halls, and individual bowling lessons. Periodically an additional 2 hour educational bowling class will be conducted.
All of these activities are geared somewhat to working around your class schedules; tryouts are scheduled during mid-to-late afternoons. Collegiate tournaments are scheduled on weekends; therefore, as a general rule, classes are not missed because of these competitions. However, attendance at all of the tryouts, meetings, educational bowling classes and team training is mandatory.
Occasionally (around two to three days) students may miss classes due to travel, for approximately eight fall semester away tournaments. Students who are selected to be on teams that will travel to these events will each be given a quantity of information sheets to hand out to instructors in an effort to advise them of the bowler's need to miss class for this 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 or bowlers to go to the tournament(s).
Spring Semester - Anywhere from two to nine days of classes throughout the spring can be missed by students traveling to tournament play. In the event a student can't attend one of the scheduled tournaments due to an academic obligation, the coaching staff uses their discretion to select a replacement.
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.