Bowling holds first annual reunion for former members

Grant Cohen

Former Wichita State Shocker bowler Skip Wilson remembers the days before technology allowed easier access to keeping in contact with his friends and fellow bowlers.

“We didn’t have Facebook or cell phones back in our day,” said Wilson, a member of the 1980 National Championship Team. “I kind of wish we did because all of us lost touch. To come back and see everybody is a blast for me.” 

Shocker bowling provided the opportunity for Shocker Bowling alumni to get reacquainted, face-to-face at the Rhatigan Student Center on Saturday night. 

The alumni and their family socialized with other members who were on those successful teams. Along with reliving old memories and experiences, members of the first to most recent teams shared laughs and took photographs to remember what was a historic night for them. Shocker bowling started in 1959.

“For me, being here brings back the camaraderie that we enjoyed when we were bowling together,” Former Shocker bowler Raymond Meeford said. “That was the first time I experienced the adrenaline and being apart of a team. I remember that excitement the most.”

Along with socializing with old friends, the alumni had the chance to participate in a silent auction and a 50-50 raffle. The biddable items included official Shocker bowling balls, Shocker bowling pins, and wine bottles that listed all of the WSU National Championships on it. 

All of the money earned supports the the WSU bowling program and covers any future expenses to help continue to keep the program operating. 

“(The silent auction) items were an idea we had in order to raise money for the program,” alumni committee member Matt McFeyand said. “We don’t want to make it seem too fundraisey, but we want to try to raise a little extra cash for the program.” 

Having the Intercollegiate National Bowling Championships held at Northrock Lanes, McFeyand and five other alumni committee members revolved a week of events around the championships. 

Wednesday night consisted of an alumni gathering at O’Brien’s Irish Pub in downtown Wichita. Thursday was alumni gathering at the WSU Recreation Center, where alumni had their chance to show their bowling skills. 

“(The events) are all in conjunction with the Intercollegiate Bowling Championships,” McFeyand said. “The responses we’ve gotten have been great. We are planning on trying to do this every five years.”

Shocker Bowling Alumni also reflected on their years in Wichita, looking WSU yearbooks and photograph albums brought back a wave of emotions.

The alumni heard former players and coaches speak about team memories, and how being apart of the program changed their lives. With the program’s success, alumni felt even prouder to say that they graduated as a Wichita State Shocker.  

“If you are a bowler, this is where you want to go,” Wilson said. “It’s like playing basketball for WSU. If you can make it at Wichita State, you have a chance to go on (in the pros). That’s what Gordon (Vadakin) and his program have been able to build.”