For the past 16 years, the Wright State University women’s bowling team had been a club program. The team’s year 17 was its first official as an NCAA Division I program, as the Raiders became the fifth NCAA women’s bowling team in Ohio.
“It’s been a blast,” said head coach Jeff Fleck, who co-founded the women’s bowling program at Wright State.
The team consists of 12 bowlers, three of whom were part of the club program last season. The bowlers say playing for an NCAA team has required more of a commitment. The team now practices three days a week instead of two days and tournaments are four days instead of two.
NCAA bowling tournaments are also more competitive.
“There were definitely good teams when we were club that we would bowl against,” said Zoe Paxhia-Poppaw, a senior biological sciences major. “There are a lot more teams now that we see that are at a higher level than we’ve ever bowled before.”
Now that they are part of the athletic program, team members have strength and conditioning every Wednesday and access to student advisors, new equipment, lounge facilities and locker rooms at the Wright State Nutter Center. First-year students are also encouraged to attend study tables.
“It has helped everybody become well-rounded and manage their time,” said Colleen McKee, the team’s assistant coach who was on the club bowling team at Wright State. “Everybody has been appreciative of everything we have.”
The team wrapped up its inaugural season with three wins on the last day of the Columbia Music City Classic in Nashville on March 19. The Raiders competed all season, picking up tournament wins at the Mounties Roundup in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and the Raider Classic in Dayton.
“At the end of the day their goal is to get a degree and to get a job,” said McKee. “Now we have a lot of resources to help them do that.”