More than 100 youth bowlers from across the country, and even a little further away, were at the International Training and Research Center this week to take part in the Bowling Combine for College Prospects.
The Bowling Combine, in its fourth year, was developed to bring together youth bowlers who want to compete at the collegiate level and college coaches looking for talented bowlers for their programs. This year's event started Tuesday and will conclude Saturday.
Joanna Hackett, 16, might have made the longest trip to attend the event. Hackett, who said her father found out about the Bowling Combine and thought she should attend, traveled from London with her parents.
Joanna Hackett (second from right) of London and her parents visit with Webber International coach Randy Stoughton (left) during the Bowling Combine for College Prospects.
"I know bowling in America is bigger than it is in England, and I want to get into a university here and take my bowling further," Hackett said. "It's been a new experience and I just tried to keep calm, bowl and just be myself."
Student-athletes also had the opportunity for one-on-one meetings with collegiate coaches. Approximately 30 collegiate programs were represented at the Combine.
Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, launched its bowling program last season and coach Ben Hoefs found a couple of recruits during last year's Bowling Combine. He said being at the event not only allows him to see recruits, but also lets people know that Spring Hill College has a bowling program.
"Once we get our name on the map, it's easier to recruit," Hoefs said. "When we talk to parents, we focus on our academics – that's most important. Bowling is an extra aid to get them extra dollars toward a phenomenal education."
Student-athletes who have collegiate eligibility remaining, and have completed at least their sophomore year in high school, were asked to submit an application to attend the Bowling Combine. Because of limited space, just over 100 players are selected to attend and the program has been at capacity each year.
Webber International coach Randy Stoughton attended the Bowling Combine for the third time and has recruited a couple of players out of the Combine.
"It's more a matter of seeing who is out there, especially on the boys' side," Stoughton said. "The really good talent is what you are looking for, something you can develop."
At the Bowling Combine, the Team USA coaching staff uses the state-of-the-art tools at the ITRC to put the student-athletes through tests to evaluate skills such as shot repeatability, release ratio, spare proficiency, breakpoint management, vertical leap, and balance.
Jonathan Bowman, 17, of Plattsburgh, New York, will be a high school senior in the fall. He competed in the Junior Gold Championships in the Buffalo, New York, area, averaging 200 during the tournament to finish 47th in the Under 20 division, before making the trip to Texas for his second time through the Bowling Combine.
"I just finished the CAT system and I saw my line and it looked a lot better than last year," said Bowman, discussing the Computer-Aided Tracking System used at the Combine. "This has been a very, very good experience and I really did enjoy doing this. It's been fun."
The student-athletes who attended the Bowling Combine Bowlers will receive an objective analysis of their skills, including a Performance Evaluation Test (P.E.T.) score. The P.E.T. score can be used to compare not only those at this year's Bowling Combine, but from previous years.
The bowlers also will receive a recruiting kit that includes video shots and bowler variables measured, plus a detailed report of personal data collected.
In addition to the opportunity for one-on-one contact with prospective student-athletes, coaches receive an evaluation of each bowler. Only coaches in attendance can receive the evaluations.
To learn more about the Bowling Combine, please click here.