By Kayla Boardman (@kaylarboardman):
San Jose State has a bowling team?
These are often the first words muttered when one learns about the SJSU bowling team. Since the club sport team practices off campus and participates mostly in tournaments out of state, it is not widely known throughout campus.
“I honestly didn’t know about the SJSU bowling team until you asked me about it,” said electrical engineering senior Dominic Moser. “Bowling seems to be a sport which would be difficult for many to watch, which is why I assume I haven’t seen any advertising on social media. I’d be down to watch a match or two though, maybe I’ll learn some tricks to improve my own gameplay.”
This SJSU team is not just fun and games, however.
The bowling team practices every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with the latter being optional. For tournaments, the team will travel anywhere from Cal Poly to Texas and compete in two all-day tournaments per trip.
And for the record, the team is pretty good.
Two recent alumni, Michael and Darren Tang, are both now part of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) and have played on TV.
The team also has been ranked as high as fourth in the nation among college teams before.
“We are one of the top teams out there in the college area,” said team president Calvin Au. “We really like to compete against the best teams and show why we are up there with the very best.”
What some may not know is that the popularity of the sport has grown so much that bowling events like the PBA tournaments are nationally broadcasted.
The bowling team functions just like many other college-level teams. It is sponsored by a company that provides gear and it travels to different colleges to compete.
Storm Bowling, one of the top bowling manufacturers in the country, provides sponsorship to the team by giving them free or discounted bowling balls, shoes and other equipment.
“It has been a great partnership for us in that bowling is a relatively expensive sport from the equipment standpoint,” said head coach Lindsey Wong. “A lot of players when we go to tournaments have six to eight bowling balls that they will take with them.”
Wong, an alumnus of the SJSU bowling program, explained that bowling is similar to golf in that players need different balls for different throws to get exactly the right shot. Buying that much equipment quickly adds up.
He also talked about the intensity of travel and competing in tournaments, each of which can take up to eight hours.
“We go to a tournament and even though it is a weekend, there is one tournament each day so they will actually bowl Saturday as one event and bowl Sunday as a second event,” Wong said.
The team must also travel for practice as it has to go to 4th Street Bowl, three miles away from SJSU. According to team treasurer Adrian Mercado, the bowling center on campus is expected to open in spring 2018.
All of the traveling involved does have its perks though, one being that it brings the team closer together.
“We are really a family environment and we all really love each other,” Au said. “We hang out all the time and talk about the game and it’s always a lot of fun when we are together.”
The feeling of being a family is one that most of the team seems to share.
“Everyone is always working hard and improving and we are not just teammates, we are a family,” Mercado said. “We are all brothers, and one sister because we have one girl, and we hang out all the time.”
A common theme among the bowling team is not only how well each player can bowl, but the atmosphere and mindset of each student-athlete. You do not have to be experienced at bowling to join the team, they will help you get there if you have the drive.
“We look for more than just bowling and more than just score,” said assistant coach Max Epps. “You can’t measure heart and a lot of students have a lot of heart and you just want to see them get better.”
Like many other collegiate sports programs, the bowling team has a redshirt program where players can be part of the team but not compete in tournaments, allowing them to improve their skills.
“This year we have 16 bowlers on the team but we are redshirting four as we build their bowling skills to get better and then that way they still have full eligibility if they want to continue to bowl for San Jose State,” Epps said.
The season starts Oct. 21 and runs through April, ending with the collegiate championships that the team hopes to qualify for this season.