As Spring Hill College prepares for its first bowling season in school history, head coach Ben Hoefs is excited to approach the lanes. "The players have really rallied together," he says. "We've come a long way in just three weeks of practice time."
Hoefs stresses that the first season of SHC bowling will be about teaching the mental aspects of the game as much as coaching the physical mechanics. "We need to learn to read lane conditions," he says. "Bowling is about constantly watching how the ball rotates going down the lane, watching how the oil of the lane is breaking down, knowing the oil pattern of the lane and then adjusting your game or the equipment to match those changes."
For the men's team, Hoefs sees his first starting line-up to be a solid core of young players. "Of course, we'll adjust the line-up according to a variety of factors including lane conditions, but I'm very pleased with the consistency of this group," he says. Leading off will Brian Bodenheimer of Kenner, La., then next will be Kenny Nealon of Coral Springs, Fla., followed by Charles R. Noble Jr from Metairie, La. The No. 4 and No. 5 players will be Kyle Broussard of New Iberia, La., and Ryan Hauck from Pen Argyl, Pa. "In the Baker system of scoring, your leadoff bowler should be very consistent," says Hoefs. "He's the person who teammates watch to see how the lane is reacting. The fourth and fifth bowlers should be the big strike throwers, but right now I'm stressing that we always need to 'fill the frame' – meaning we need to knock down all 10 pins in every frame no matter how we accomplish it."
William Howard of Mobile and Chase Broussard of New Iberia will also see action throughout the season depending on lane conditions and tournament format.
The SHC ladies team will be built a little differently than the men's team as Hoefs says they currently lack a true power player. "I'm teaching our women's team to play the same part of the lane every time out," he says. "This is where we need to be smart bowlers and learn how to communicate with each other during the match."
Darien Miller of Slidell, La., will lead things off for the Badgers followed by Paige Sztabink of Cold Harbor, N.Y. Next up will be Rebekah Cowan of Allen, Texas, with Jessica Temple of LaSalle, Ill., and Miranda Singer of Columbus, Ohio, closing out the line-up. Stephanie Latuso of Mobile will also be a key player ofr SHC as the season progresses. "Our players are all very young, but they are asking the right questions and they are very good listeners," says Hoefs. "I've changed many of them to new equipment and altered some grips and mechanics, but they have all accepted the changes and seen improvements in their games as a result."
Overall, Hoefs and his Badger Bowlers are eager to begin the campaign. "It's been a heavy learning process so far and there is a lot of work ahead of us," Hoefs says. "But our players have really bought into the program and formed a happy family."
The Badger bowling squads will roll in their historic first tournament at the TyBryt Invitational Bakers Challenge at Lakes Lane Bowling Center in The Colony, Texas, this Saturday and Sunday.