Featured photo: The women’s bowling team won the 2023 MEAC championship in March. Now, they’re training to win the one in 2024. (photo by Erin E. Mizzelle/NCA&T Athletics)

The women’s bowling team at NC A&T State University is leaving a striking legacy.

With 37 wins so far this season, the team recently came out on top with a score of 1,004-980 against Lincoln Memorial University at the Hawk Classic bowling tournament hosted by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Nov. 17.

The team is no stranger to championships, though. In addition to the 2015 Intercollegiate Team Championships, the team has won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship seven times, and every year since 2021 including this year.

“Not a lot of teams get to say they get to three-peat in their conference championships,” says graduate student Lauren Tomaszewski, who is in her fourth and final year with the team. “Hopefully that turns into a four-peat this year.”

Lauren Tomaszewski is in her fourth and final year with the team. (photo by Erin E. Mizelle/NCA&T Athletics)

Since 2016, the team has been led by Head Coach Kim Terrell-Kearney, who started bowling at 8 years old. Perfecting her craft over time has earned her five conference championships, five regular-season titles and four Coach of the Year awards. According to the NCAT Aggies website, under Terrell-Kearney’s direction, “the Aggies have secured 14 first-team All-MEAC recognitions by eight different players.”

“It was a good fall,” she says. “I’m very happy with how we’ve played. I think we’re only getting better every year.”

She is joined by her husband and assistant coach Eric Kearney, who was on the men’s bowling team at A&T from 1991-94.

Terell-Kearney runs alternating practice sessions, with some days focused on small groups and others on full team practices. Small groups involve improving players’ versatility, skill and ability to repeat shots while the women learn to play off each other during team practices.

Head Coach Kim Terrell-Kearney started bowling when she was 8 years old. (photo by Erin E. Mizelle/NCA&T Athletics)

During the season, the team’s schedule includes travel on Thursday, competing during the weekend and relaxing on Mondays. Because of this, the team opts for intentional, vigorous practices when they can.

“If we’re competing that week, we really only get to practice two days,” Terrell-Kearney says. “There’s always a lot to do.”

To keep their bowling skills sharp during the off-season, the players take advantage of opportunities in their hometowns.

“Normally we bowl leagues locally wherever we’re at. That really helps us keep in shape,” says Chloe Newberry, a junior who joined the team in 2021.

“I try to practice every day at least for an hour trying to keep my form in check,” she adds.

Chloe Newberry is a junior and joined the team in 2021 (photo by Erin E. Mizelle/NCA&T Athletics)

In addition to participating in local and national tournaments and leagues to maintain her competitive edge, Tomaszewski dedicates the off-season to working on spares, learning her arsenal — or collection of balls of various strengths and shapes — and running drills.

“There are some days where I will just go do drills in the bowling alley just to make sure everything’s staying on the up and up,” Tomaszewski says.

The players and coach say a lesser-known challenge of bowling is that it can be physically and mentally taxing.

“By the end of the day, we’re wiped out because you’re using every single bit of all you have in terms of the physical effort it takes to throw the ball that many times throughout the day as well as competing at such a high level,” Terrell-Kearney says.

Newberry acknowledges the difficulty of staying in a competitive mindset at 4 p.m. when matches began at 8 a.m.

“Staying competitive most of the day is kind of difficult because they’re very long days,” she says.

The team at the 2023 MEAC Championship (photo by Erin E. Mizelle/NCA&T Athletics)

Despite the tough parts of bowling, the team remains optimistic for the future of the season and the program as a whole. Tomaszewski looks forward to how new students develop skills based on former players.

“With it being my last year here, I’m really excited to see the progress of the new recruits coming in and depending on what we do this year, how they’re going to build off that for the years to come.” she says.

According to Terrell-Kearney, one priority for the bowling program is to foster a competitive yet enjoyable environment so players want to return. For Newberry, the ultimate goal is to win.

“Our eyes are set on that national championship,” Newberry says. “We are really gunning for that.”

The 2024 MEAC Bowling Championship will be held March 22-24, 2024 at Buffaloe Lanes North Family Bowling Center in Raleigh. Learn more about the NC A&T women’s bowling team at ncataggies.com/sports/womens-bowling. Follow them on Instagram at @ncataggiebowling.

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