As a high school senior, Tiffany Walther bowled a high game of 241 and was a member of the Association Bowling Board for Warsaw, Ind. That fall she met Bowling Coach Jim Bischoff at a competition in Indianapolis, where they discussed the university and the potential for her bowling as a Forester.
Walther said she was interested in bowling for a Christian school. After she visited she said she “fell in love with the campus.”
Walther is one of nine bowling scholarship recipients this year — the first year ever the university has run competitive women’s and men’s bowling teams. The last prior varsity sport to be added was women’s soccer in 1997.
Coach Bischoff said he began searching for athletes almost a year ago after the board of trustees approved the decision in the spring of 2011. He said he was looking for bowlers like Walther who were seeking not only bowling at the collegiate level, but also the “Huntington experience.”
With nine recruits this year for the current roster, Bischoff hopes that the numbers will continue to rise as the program develops.
Sophomore Tyler Neff started bowling in sixth grade and previously bowled for Coach Bischoff at Huntington North High School. HNHS won the Indiana state championship during Neff’s senior year. His highest score was 284 in high school.
The City of Huntington is big into bowling, Neff said.
“The fact that our university is adopting it too is really neat,” Neff said. “And I think it will draw in a lot of bowlers from the Huntington area.”
Neff joined the bowling team because he loves to compete, he said.
The bowling team is not just for single sport athletes. Senior Bryan Myers heard about the bowling team through Norm’s Grapevine and decided to see what Bischoff had to offer even without scholarships.
Myers is also a part of the track and field team. Because the bowling team is new enough, Myers and Bischoff are unsure of how the overlapping of the seasons will work.
Myers said he is excited to see how the student body responds to bowling.
“You can’t say you don’t like bowling,” Myers said.
He hopes students and faculty will enjoy following the team to the various matches they will compete in.
The bowling team has a longer competitive season than most. They had their first practice on Sept.7. The bowling team will practice Tuesdays and Thursdays and will compete until mid-March. Competitions will take place across the Midwest in cities such as Indianapolis and St. Louis, Bischoff said.
Bischoff said he believes “there’s a lot of bowlers that, if they want a faith-based education, it’s a great opportunity. The sport is down here, and you’ve got God, family and academics in front of that, and if people understand that and they want that, it’s a great place to come.”
Jeff Berggren, senior vice president for enrollment management and marketing, said that the bowling team, “definitely brings students who wouldn’t always have chosen us … because of the bowling connection.”
The bowling team will have competitions on weekends, including Sundays. To compete on Sundays, they will have a Bible study in the mornings at the hotel before they compete or attend a church in the local area, depending on the time of the competition, Bischoff said. Attendance is required for all competition.
Bischoff believes that having a varsity bowling team will not only add to Forester athletics, but also to the community as a whole.
“If people come, that’s who we are,” he said.
Bischoff said he hopes to make the bowling team an example of the university’s principles and beliefs, and improve the schools athletics.
Rankings of the bowling team members throughout the season can be tracked at the HU athletics website.