Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Bowling heads into break

Kelly Whipple poses for an action shot on the bowling team’s media day inside Warhawk Alley.

UW-Whitewater Women’s Bowling is one of the most interesting Warhawk athletic programs. Like other student-athletes, members of head coach Leann Sullivan’s bowling team commit to a grueling schedule. What makes the program unique at the University is the cross country traveling and Division I competition that the Warhawks take on each year. 

Throughout the fall portion of their season the team traveled across state-lines to Indiana and most recently Virginia for the Hawk Classic, the final competition this fall. The team currently holds a 33-18 record with a team average of 192. According to Sullivan, the team is not far off from their preseason team average goal of 195. 

Although there is still work to be done, the team is equipped with a growth oriented mindset and the ability to keep improving. 

“They don’t give up,” Sullivan said. “We have grinded through a bunch of matches so far this season and even if we are down 50 pins or so they hold that mentality of not giving up and looking to put some strikes together.”

Junior Kelly Whipple (2021-2022 National Rookie of the Year) and sophomore Zoey Darwin led the Warhawks in scoring at the Hawk Classic. Both finished among the top 25 bowlers at the meet in traditional matches. Darwin ranked 19th with an average 218.83. 

“All the practice we did throughout the week really helped me individually,” Darwin said. “We know how to play off of each other so that was a huge factor in my success this week, being able to work together as a team and make the moves we needed to.”

Whipple, who is now in her third season as a key member of the bowling program, recovered from a slower than expected start to the season as she finished 22nd among all of the bowlers at the meet. She averaged 217.83 throughout the weekend. 

“I figured some things out this weekend that I had been struggling with,” Whipple said. “Even though I struggled at times this weekend, I was able to lean back on my teammates and be there with them and it helped a ton.”

While it might seem cliche, teamwork is an especially important part of the Warhawk bowling program due to the amount of time the team spends together on the road and at practice throughout the week. The team’s bond has proved to be an advantage to the team’s overall performance.

“It gets a bit stressful at times,” Darwin said. “But overall the team handles that stress well. It helps that the team hangs out outside of bowling and is used to spending a lot of time together. It is a positive environment that we create for ourselves.”

Not only does the team spend entire weekends together for competitions, but the athletes are also subjected to a tight schedule throughout the week, consisting of mandatory study sessions, 6 a.m. workouts, and daily practice.

“Learning how to get into the unique schedule is so important,” Sullivan said. “The sooner the athletes create good habits the easier the semester is going to be. We have a consistent schedule each week and I have structured the schedules in a way so that if they want to work a job on campus they can do so and if they want to have a social life they can do that as well.”

Back in October the Warhawks kicked off their season with a win right out of the gate. Whitewater followed their win with second and fourth place finishes to add to their momentum early in the season. 

“After last season we had some high expectations, because we ended the season on a high note,” Whipple said. “We exceeded those expectations the very first tournament by getting a win. Now we are trying to find our groove again, but we will be able to find it and catch some wins again.”

The team has a few months to do what they can to get into gear before their next competition in St. Louis, Missouri, Friday, Feb. 2. 

“Coming back from break we will definitely reevaluate our goals again,” Whipple said. “We are always trying to raise expectations and perform at a higher level to be as competitive and successful as we can.”

The break comes at a good time for the program, and gives the team an opportunity to regroup, and recharge before taking the back half of the season. 

“We are all excited to have a break since this fall season was heavier than normal,” Whipple said. “But we are also ready to work during this two month break and come back even stronger than we are right now.”

From February through April, the bowling team will compete in eight different competitions in at least five different states, including two potential national championships.

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About the Contributor
Mikey Rottier
Mikey Rottier, Men's Sports Journalist

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