It took Lee Anne Wilkins almost five years to bring a 10-pin bowling program to Canada and then she got approval to start Canada’s first collegiate bowling program at Georgian in 2015. Since the team’s first season in September 2016, they’ve been the only college bowling team in the country.
She understands, firsthand, the value of having a collegiate bowling team in Canada, and how it can help student-athletes become professional bowlers, because the next step after the college level is becoming a pro.
“My son went to school at Urbana University in Ohio on a bowling scholarship – I ended up being a recruiter for them, but I wanted to keep our student-athletes on Canadian soil while reaping the benefits of competing at the collegiate level,” says Lee Anne, who is the bowling program co-ordinator. “My son is now a pro bowler and travels the world.”
Led by head coach John Fallis, the club sport team known as the ‘Kodiaks’ has moved forward in keeping with branding at Georgian with the moniker, ‘Georgian Grizzlies.’ They’ve done remarkably well in such a short time. In their first year, they captured a first-place victory at the Black Squirrel tournament in Kent, Ohio, and made sectionals. Along with several second-place, one third-place and one fourth-place finish since then, they also made sectionals in 2017 and 2018, and are on track to make sectionals again for the 2019-20 season.
The team competes in up to 10 college tournaments a season throughout the U.S. Smaller, tier II tournaments are as close as possible in the first half to avoid bad weather, but the larger, tier I tournaments are held in Las Vegas and Indianapolis.
Team members must be enrolled at Georgian and/or Lakehead-Georgian, and carry a minimum of 12 credit hours. They must also be in good standing and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to compete on the team. The team is always looking for student-athletes dedicated to 10-pin bowling, and hold tryouts during the first two weeks of September.
We connected with co-captains, Joshua Bautista, a student in the Fitness and Health Promotion program, and Madisyn Lyon, a student in the Automotive Business program, to ask them about their bowling experiences.
How did you discover bowling and how long have you been doing it?
Joshua: I’ve been bowling for 13 years and I discovered bowling during a field trip to our local bowling alley during Grade 2. Since then, I became accustomed to going bowling with my mother.
Madisyn: I discovered bowling because it’s been in my family since I was born. My parents bowled 5 pin and my grandfather bowled 10 pin. When my grandfather passed, my brother and dad bowled in a 10-pin league and I found it fun. So at the age of 11, I joined a league and started in tournaments.
What do you like about bowling for the Georgian team?
Joshua: What I love about Georgian and its bowling team is that we get to travel far. Georgian is the only collegiate bowling team in Canada, which means all our competitions are in the U.S.
Madisyn: The Georgian team has allowed me to follow my dream of college bowling while continuing in my field of study. The best part is we don’t act like a team, we act like a family.
Can you share a memorable success?
Joshua: My most memorable moment was when I finished in the top five junior bowlers, by two points, to make Team Canada Bowling in 2016.
Madisyn: I’m lucky enough to say I was on the team the first year we were actually considered a team. A memorable success would be walking into the bowling centre at our very first tournament – that feeling of ‘wow this is actually true.’
How do you find time to travel all over and still maintain good grades?
Joshua: Because we travel to up to 10 tournaments, I make sure to schedule my time for bowling and school evenly so I can also maintain my good grades.
Madisyn: I’m not going to lie, it’s tough. But if you’re dedicated enough you will make it happen. We have long drives to tournaments where we choose to study to make the time pass, as well as spare time in hotels where we can all help each other with homework.
How has bowling helped you in life?
Joshua: In my life bowling has taught me the lesson of self-discipline, where in order to reach your dreams, it takes the discipline of putting as much time and effort toward your dream until you’re there!
Madisyn: Bowling has made me the person I am today. Without Canadian college bowling I didn’t see myself at Georgian. Bowling has given me a chance to excel as an individual. I went from a shy girl with little friends to someone very outgoing. I’ve now made several friends all across the USA. I’m lucky to say bowling influences me as a person and I’m excited to see where it takes me.