Bethel University’s new bowling teams garnered much attention this season for their individual performances. Freshmen Ameer Lawrence and Myles Moser each won the bowling program’s first individual tournament wins. Freshman Lauren Jackson finished in the top 15 for an individual tournament at Alma College.
But Bowling Coach Chris Adams said it took some time for the Bethel athletic department to understand college bowling.
“It’s interesting because even within the athletics department…I don’t know if there was a full understanding of collegiate bowling,” Adams said. “We got collegiate bowlers who are on team USA from other schools.”
While Bethel established the program, Adams said he is preparing his athletes for other opportunities. In the off season, bowlers can compete in travel teams nationally and internationally. Adams said he encourages his athletes to practice more and prepare for bigger opportunities.
Both Bethel men’s and women’s teams practice every Friday afternoon at Parkway Lanes in Mishawaka. The weekly practices provide a way for Adams to teach his athletes the rules of the game.
“The lane is different every time they throw a ball on because these balls are porous, so they pull the oil off the lanes,” Adams said. “So, every time you get back on that lane, that lanes changed, but you still have to hit that same spot down the lane.”
Practices consist of working on targeting while taking into account ball speed and timing. Targeting is throwing the ball straight down a specific part of the lane. At a certain point, the ball begins to curve to the center of the lane.
Adams said the team works with bowlers on finding the right release point. The bowlers can then target the place they want the ball to hit the pins. Freshman Juan Daniel Gonzalez said targeting is something he is getting used to.
“In high school, they have this thing call ‘miss room,’ so [the oil patterns] can be more of a 4:1 ratio,” Gonzalez said. “So, you have four boards that are on the lane to miss. In college, some of the patterns we bowl on are 2:1 or 1:1 so you really have no miss room.”
Some walk-on bowlers never experienced playing on different oil patterns. Adams and experienced bowlers on the team showed newcomers how to target and adjust.
“If a teammate comes up to me and asks me for help, I will do whatever it takes to help them out and get them lined up and get them tracking again,” Lawrence said. “It’s never like, ‘No, I’m good. I’m focused.’ Never. If I say that, take me out of college bowling because I’ve lost the love of it.”
Although the two teams struggled to compete well in team tournaments, they developed a team chemistry. Moser said his friendships on the bowling team contribute to their growth.
“I think if you can…do well with your team and bounce off of each other, you can have a good time and focus at the same time,” Moser said. “I think we’ve accomplished that really well.”