by Ryan Miller- Sports Editor
Pla-Mor Lanes, a local bowling alley, was a full house on Saturday, Jan 25 as Viterbo University hosted the third annual V-Hawk Invitational. The men’s varsity squad won the tournament while the women’s varsity placed third out of five teams. The tournament hosted Ashford (men and women), University Northern Iowa (men), Grand View (men and women), AIB (men), Waldorf (men and women) and Elmhurst (women).
The tournament and the sport’s popularity have grown in recent years, but Viterbo’s bowling teams still are not receiving the respect that they deserve. When thinking about bowling, most of the population views it as a recreational sport. I too was guilty of this assumption until I witnessed the sport in action.
Driving to the tournament, I was expecting it to be like any other weekend bowling with friends. As I pulled into Pla-Mor Lanes, I quickly realized I was greatly mistaken, as the parking lot was at maximum capacity. During my block long walk to get into the bowling alley, I started to wonder what I was getting myself into.
As soon as I opened the doors, I felt like I was entering another world. The aroma of burgers, fries and that distinct bowling alley smell quickly captured my nose. My ears were overwhelmed with the clashing of pins, chants from various teams, applause and the occasional sigh of disbelief or disappointment.
Finally, I spotted Viterbo’s varsity and junior varsity teams. Getting near them, though, was going to be a challenge. Fans were packed shoulder-to-shoulder, leaving little to no room to pass through.
The crowd was just as big as, if not bigger than, most Viterbo sporting events. For a bowler, however, the fans are less than 10 feet away during the entire competition. Between fan interaction, being in close quarters with the opponent and the sporadic commotions that occur, concentration becomes a difficult task.
“It can sometimes be difficult,” Chelsie Kraus, senior bowler and biology major from Onalaska, Wis. told Lumen. “There is a lot going on all the time and it is hard to always concentrate strictly on your own bowling and your team.”
Coaches are right by their bowlers’ sides throughout the entire competition, another unique aspect of bowling. This can serve to be beneficial, as a coach can easily give advice, but it also puts more pressure on the bowler.
“[Having coaches close] is occasionally beneficial but most of the time it is a bit nerve-racking, for me at least,” Dakota Viken, sophomore bowler and biology major from Marshall, Wis. told Lumen.
Similar to a baseball player stepping into the batter’s box or a basketball player on the free throw line, bowlers have a routine they perform before every frame to help eliminate the distractions. “I try to completely clear my mind before I bowl,” Viken said. “Eliminate all distractions.”
“Other teams may disagree with this but I think that bowling is one of the hardest sports out there, physically and mentally,” Kraus said. “It takes a great amount of practice and repetition to be good at it, and there are a ton of factors that play into bowling.”
It is challenging for a non-bowler to understand the complexity of the sport. Clearing the mind is just one of the many challenging tasks for a bowler. Confidence, oil patterns, speed, spin, marks and consistency are all things that need to be mastered during a game.
Our campus should embrace the bowlers and recognize them for their accomplishments. When talking with the bowlers after the tournament there was a reoccurring theme among the messages they wanted to send.
“One thing I wish is for people to recognize bowling as a sport,” Stephanie Frank a junior bowler and marketing major from Plymouth, Wis. told Lumen. “I realize some people will disagree with me, but it requires time, dedication, hard work and effort just like any other sport.”