The Evolution of MEAC Bowling

Courtesy: MEAC Media Relations
          Release: 08/18/2008
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Courtesy: MEAC Media Relations

Bowling in the MEAC has come a long way since the conference officially sanctioned it as a sport in 1999.


After less than a decade of competition, the MEAC is home to the reigning NCAA Women’s Bowling national champions, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, boasts the U.S. Bowling Congress U.S. Women’s Open Champion, Delaware State coach Kim Terrell-Kearney, and is arguably the strongest conference for bowling in the country, top to bottom.


That’s a far cry from the sport’s early days when Morgan State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Coppin State and North Carolina A&T were the only conference members who fielded teams. They competed and recruited locally, and teams consisted mostly of walk-ons with little or no bowling experience.


“It’s just growing and growing and the competition level has gotten better,’’ says Morgan State coach James Brown, a former professional bowler, who started the bowling  program to fill a void created when the Bears’ discontinued wrestling. “ I’m not sure I envisioned it getting this large in the beginning, but when the NCAA said gender equity was required, I felt it could get real large.’’


 The NCAA gave bowling “emerging sport’’ status in 1994, and the MEAC became the first conference to gain NCAA sanctioning for women’s bowling when it adopted the sport prior to the 1996-97 school year.


Brown has been bowling coach at Morgan State since the sport’s inception in 1996 on the club level. North Carolina A&T, Maryland Eastern Shore, Howard and Coppin State were the only other conference schools fielding teams at that time. Today all 12 member institutions field teams and recruit nationally and internationally.


North Carolina A&T, coached at the time by Vernell Stallings who started the Aggies’ program in 1979, won the inaugural MEAC Bowling Championship hosted by Howard University. The Aggies dominated competition initially, winning four of the first five championships including three straight from 2002-04. Maryland Eastern Shore has won the last three MEAC titles and four crowns overall, having won its first championship in 2001. Bethune-Cookman won the 2005 title, four years after becoming last MEAC school to adopt bowling.


Maryland Eastern Shore has established itself as one of the premier programs among the 53 or so schools that bowl and coach Sharon Brummell is the first female to win a national championship in the sport. The Lady Hawks have competed in the NCAA Tournament five times, including the inaugural event in 2004 when they finished seventh in the eight-team field. They recorded the first 300 baker game in NCAA history during the 2004 tournament. They were runners-up in 2007, losing to Vanderbilt 4-3 in the best-of-seven final series.

  The Lady Hawks placed three athletes on the 2008 National Tenpin Coaches Association All-American team, freshmen Kristina Frahm of Oswega, Ill., and  Maria Rodriguez of Ilbague Tolima, Colombia, and senior Jessica Worsley of Brick, N.J. It is the second consecutive year that Maryland Eastern Shore has had three All-Americans. Frahm was also voted 2008 Division I Rookie of the Year.


Brown says expanded recruiting is the reason bowling has grown as much as it has in the MEAC, which he says is the strongest conference top to bottom in the country, even though he says here are challenges to be overcome in that area due to the scarcity of information readily available about high school bowlers the way that it is in football and basketball.


In many instances, Brown says he learns about bowlers by word of mouth and frequently high school bowlers will contact him.


“We’ve been able to find areas where there are better bowlers,’’ he says.


And the rest is history.



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