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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘I couldn’t be more excited’: Women’s bowling prepares for NCAA jump

When Holly Harris, head coach for the women’s bowling team, got a call from Athletic Director Kevin Saal saying that women’s bowling would become a varsity sport for Wichita State, she began to cry. 

“This has been something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Harris said. “We’ve kind of been asking for quite a few years.”

In fall 2023, Wichita State’s athletic department announced that women’s bowling would make the big move from being an intercollegiate team to an NCAA sport.

Harris has held the head coach position for four years. Before that, she was part of Wichita State’s bowling program during her college years, joining in 2010. 

“I think the college me wanted that to feel a little fulfilled, and then I’m just super excited to get to do it with the (team),” Harris said. 

Harris said she looks forward to her new role. She has never looked at coaching as anything less than trying to win. 

“I’m still coaching bowling, and we’re still throwing a ball down the lane and trying to knock over as many pins as we can,” Harris said. “I really think that the coaching part of it stays the same. We’re not just trying to be the best in the club, we’re trying to be the best in the country.” 

 Mary Orf joined the team three years ago and said she is excited about all the resources that will be available. 

“I did not expect the NCAA thing when they announced it to us. It was a big shock,” Orf said. 

Women’s bowling will have access to strength conditioning and academic, nutrition, and mental health support. Harris said the team will be able to focus more on bowling with the added resources.  

 She said in the past few years, it has been harder to recruit bowlers because many of them have been looking for an NCAA team.

“We’ve seen a big shift in probably the last five to 10 years in women’s bowling in general, and a lot more of the better players (are) going to the NCAA,” Harris said. 

Women’s bowling had an open program where student-athletes could show up and try out, but they are now shifting into a more limited recruiting process. As of right now, women’s bowling is required to have a minimum of 10 bowlers to compete, but there is no limit to how many they are allowed. 

“It’s really just making sure that we have enough resources and time for everybody that we want to have with us,” Harris said. 

Orf said the team has already seen some NCAA teams in intercollegiate sectionals. 

“Some of their points qualify them for sectionals, but it’s just going to be completely different seeing the bigger, better schools even though we’re just as good,” Orf said.

Harris said moving to the NCAA makes the team feel more legitimate.

“Knowing that they’re going to get recognized with other athletes and be treated like athletes and like a real sport on campus — I couldn’t be more excited for them,” Harris said. 

Women’s bowling is now in its final postseason run as an intercollegiate sport. They will fully transition into the NCAA by summer 2024. 

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About the Contributors
Melanie Rivera-Cortez, Sports Editor
Garima Thapa, Photographer
Garima Thapa is a second-year photographer for The Sunflower.

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