Bowling camp brings professional experience to soon-to-be Shockers

After A.J. Chapman attended a Shocker Bowling Camp when he was 17 years old, he knew exactly what college he wanted to go to.

“I was very impressed by all the coaching staff,” Chapman said. “I was impressed by the players. It gave me a chance to experience the University, and it really helped me make up my mind on where I wanted to go to college.”

The Wichita State Shocker Bowling Camps, an 18-year-old tradition, are designed to not only provide middle-school and high-school students with an opportunity to become better bowlers, but also to let them grow as young adults, said assistant coach Mark Lewis.

“This really isn’t a youth camp,” Lewis said. “This is a big-time college athletic camp.”

Shocker Bowling, having earned 19 national championships, is known for being “the most accomplished collegiate bowling program in the nation,” according to Shocker Bowling’s website.

A title earned through 10 men’s titles and nine women’s titles, the name of the Wichita State Shockers has not gone unnoticed.

“My boys’ coaches encouraged them to come here [to camp], and I do know that Wichita State’s bowling is ranked nationally,” said Rochelle Massengale, mother of camp attendees Brendan and Dalton Massengale from LeClaire, Iowas. “Its very athletic, and I like how they have kept my boys involved the entire time they have been here.”

Although Shocker Bowling is best known for creating nationally-renowned bowlers such as Chris Barnes and John Szczerbinski, becoming a professional-level bowler does not happen overnight, as Lewis told camp attendees over dinner Friday.

“How good do you want to get?” Lewis said.

Even with these ominous words of encouragement, the face of difficulty does not phase the newest faces at the camp.

“My favorite part of being here is definitely just being here,” first-time camp attendee Joseph Patten said. “I love it.”

Teamwork is emphasized at the camp.

“This is a unique environment—this is a team environment,” bowling head coach Gordon Vadakin said. “This is not an individual thing—this is a team movement.”

For some, the camps are an opportunity to leave home and spend a few days on the Wichita State campus, staying in Fairmount Towers and experiencing the life of a WSU student.

For others, it is not only an opportunity to live the life of a college student, but also an intense opportunity to become a better bowler.

“Take advantage of the time here,” Lewis said. “If you’re here to learn and get better, that will happen. You guys are right in the same place as these professionals were when they were 14- and 15-years-old.”

Two Wichita State Shocker Bowling Camps are scheduled this summer: June 20-23 for men’s bowling and July 25-28 for men’s and women’s.