The year 2012 may be starting to wind down, but for a group of students at Northern Kentucky University, things are just getting started. It is the calm before the storm. Although in this case, the calm is rather noisy, with the thundering sound of pins tumbling to the floor.
The NKU Bowling Club, led by president Nick Fecher, has been active since 2010 and is about to begin another season of competition. At nearby La Rue Lanes off Alexandria Pike in Highland Heights, Ky., the 30 members have free team practice and receive a discount of $1.50 per game when practicing on their own time.
The first two-day tournament competition will take place this weekend in Campbellsville, Ky. from Sept. 29-30. It will be an intense weekend of competition going from 2-10 p.m. on Saturday and recommencing from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The season will last until March. Club vice president Larry Gilb said the team’s goal is to qualify for sectionals, a series of post-season tournaments for the top 80 teams. NKU ranked 97th last year. This year, the club left the United States Bowling Conference (USBC) in hopes of qualifying for more tournaments in the post-season.
Gilb said the team has to invest themselves into the sport a great deal. “Besides school, it’s second right now,” he said.
Gilb, who has bowled competitively since he was a sophomore, said he finds real enjoyment through the experience of being involved in the game.
“We have a good time all the time,” Gilb said.
The team travels often. Last year, it competed in Detroit, Mich. and Cleveland, Ohio. This year, it will be heading to Milwaukee, Wis. and Marietta, Ga.
Club treasurer David Robisch, who has bowled competitively since he was a freshman in high school and has hit the bowler’s lottery of a perfect 300 game, said that practicing with teammates is quite different from the competitions.
“It gets a little intimidating sometimes,” Robisch said.
Although bowling utilizes many of the same tools of other sports, such as mental focus and physical coordination, the existence of a bowling team at NKU comes as a surprise to some people, according to Gilb.
“They’re kind of surprised that we have one,” Gilb said. “They don’t really think it’s a sport, I guess.”
Being on the bowling team means the players have to hone their craft and as a result, they impress their friends during more casual competitions.
“A lot of people think that we’re good when we go out with people who aren’t on the team,” Gilb said.
The most favored aspect of the competition for Gilb is the baker games. In this situation, five team members bowl two frames each to make up a full game. The question of whether or not a team wins or loses a baker game lies in how capable each of its members is. One bad roll could cost the whole game.
According to Robisch, the qualities of a great bowler are not just skills, but maturity as well. He said bowlers need to be focused, have short memory for bad rolls and be very even tempered.
Through competing, the club members have made connections with the people they have met. Robisch has gained real appreciation for the camaraderie that develops through it all.
“What’s been the best is getting to know other people,” Robisch said.
For all the practice, competition and traveling the team will be undertaking this year, Gilb offers words for how he enjoys what he does and how he does it well.
“You just got to have fun,” Gilb said.