Bowler Ricki Ellison is champion beyond bowling lanes

Back to Article
Back to Article

Bowler Ricki Ellison is champion beyond bowling lanes

Ricki Ellison speaks with The Sunflower during their interview on January, 16.

Ricki Ellison speaks with The Sunflower during their interview on January, 16.

Easton Thompson

Ricki Ellison speaks with The Sunflower during their interview on January, 16.

Easton Thompson

Easton Thompson

Ricki Ellison speaks with The Sunflower during their interview on January, 16.

Champion bowler Ricki Ellison’s legacy at WSU stretches beyond the bowling alley.

Ellison graduated in 2008 with her bachelor’s in integrated marketing communication. In 2016, she earned a master of arts in communication from WSU. And she’s currently working as a clinical educator and academic advisor in the department of sport management and previously spent six years working in the office of admissions.

After spending three years as head bowling coach at Delaware State, Ellison returned to Wichita State in 2012 to begin working as an admissions representative. In June last year, she moved over to sport management, where she’s a clinical educator and academic advisor.

“When I wanted to come back to Kansas I started working in the office of admissions recruiting, and fell in love with that,” Ellison said. “I was the multicultural recruitment coordinator, working with developing and recruiting students from diverse backgrounds and looking at that in a holistic view of diversity.”

Ellison loves teaching and advising. She said she gets to make an impact on students lives and help them get to the finish line. Ellison said she likes being able to sit down and map out the plans that will help students finish their degrees.

“If a student has a situation, you know, life happens and they fail a couple classes, or they need to stop and work, any of those situations, you kind of get to be the puzzle pieces to help make everything fit together and help students walk across the stage,” Ellison said. “Being an advisor is like the best of both worlds. You get to celebrate with students in their successes.”

Ellison said one of the struggles she faces as an advisor is dealing with students who are isolating themselves now more than ever.

“I think it’s a comparison issue because there are so many expectations placed on people,” Ellison said. “I feel like there’s just this anxiety to rush, rush, I’ve got to get this done. I’m like you haven’t even lived a third of your life if I’m talking to someone who’s 20.”

Ellison said that this anxiety causes a lot of problems for students, and it makes for some of the toughest advising sessions she regularly faces. Only getting to meet with students once or twice a semester makes these situations particularly trying.

“So we’re seeing quite a few students coming in who are struggling with anxiety, with the social anxiety of being in a college campus, the transition from high school to now being on my own in college. You’re trying to reassure the student that they’re doing the right thing, and it’s very hard.”

Ellison said she thinks new students often don’t know how to respond to being a college student. Students get hit with a lot of issues that they’re not ready to handle.

“If you think about it nobody talks to you more than you talk to yourself, so if you are self-talking negatively, frequently about the things that you’re not capable of doing or the things that you’re not succeeding in, then that’s what you’re constantly going to see, portray and put out.”

Ellison said she’s happy to show students the resources available on campus to help them map out their plan, to help them find assistance when needed — but it’s difficult because she can’t make students do things, she said, even when she knows a certain situation calls for something specific.

“You can’t physically make someone do anything even when you know that’s what’s the best for them. That’s the hardest thing.”

Ellison understands the struggles of being a student here. She attributes her success at Wichita State to the women’s bowling team.

“That team did so much for me,” she said.

In addition to being on the Shocker bowling team, Ellison took part in the 2007 World Games. Bowling isn’t an official Olympic sport, so the World Championship Games are “the Olympics of Bowling.”

Ellison said there’s about 1,400 kids from across the U.S. that come to the games.

“They select the top eight bowlers,” Ellison said. “There are some really tough patterns so it’s some hard bowling. I made it into the top 10 and then the top five automatically make it onto the team and they select three others to move forward. I was one of the selected. The following year I bowled my way onto the team.

“When I made junior team USA, after my first year here at WSU, I really attribute my ability to make that team to what I learned here.”

In 2009, Ellison was a part of the women’s professional bowling tour.

“Once I graduated I actually went out on the women’s tour for one year before they folded. And then we all had to go get real jobs.”

The Professional Women’s Bowling Association made a comeback in 2015, but it was too late for Ellison.

“Now I have a daughter and a family.”

Ellison uses her sports background everyday. She now advises 223 sport management majors and facilitates recruitment and retention strategies for students of diverse backgrounds.

“There are a lot of programs out here to help students get to college. But what’s getting us through college?” Ellison asked. Ellison said she hopes to be part of that answer.