By Melody Quito
The nationally ranked FDU women’s bowling team opened its season against a highly competitive field at the Dezzy Strong Classic at Corham, N.Y., on Oct. 29.
The Knights, ranked No. 8 in the National Tenpin Coaches Association (NTCA) poll, emerged with a 7-6 record after the three-day tournament, with wins against No. 16 Tulane, No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 7 Youngstown State and No. 22 Prairie View A&M.
The tournament, hosted by No. 25 Adelphi, marked the first competition at this level for the Knights after almost two years of COVID-19 disruption.
The Knights, the regular season and the league tournament winners last year, opened Northeast Conference play Saturday and Sunday at Bowlero Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick. The league brings together the eight competitors of the NEC in these two-day events three times during the regular-season, in addition to head-to-head play.
Having won NCAA championships in 2010 and 2006, FDU enters league play as the NEC coaches’ preseason No. 1. FDU has a record five NEC championships and has advanced to the NCAA tournament 13 times, including last year when the team finished a 35-6 season (19-2 NEC) in the NCAA regional round in Kansas City, Mo., in April.
“This team is ready for everything that will come for them going into this season,” Mike LoPresti, head coach of the bowling team, told The Equinox. “We are looking to have a positive season.”
“We have included our new assistant coach, KJ Martinez, with a combination of our highly talented and powerful team, that we know can dominate most of our events and matches. We are looking to really finish advancing in the final four,” LoPresti added.
Martinez, a grad student in sport management and a standout bowler on Arizona State’s club team, joins Lisa Meadows, a former player in her 10th year as assistant coach, as the coaching staff in LoPresti’s 20th year as head coach. LoPresti is the first NCAA women’s bowling coach to earn a 1,000 wins and has a career record of 1399-490.
LoPresti, last year’s NEC coach of the year, has nine players back, including three players competing for a fifth year led by Amanda Chrzanowski, 2021 All-NEC First Team and All-Tournament team; Jenna Henderson, 2021 NEC Bowler of the Year; and Aimee Sherman, the 2021 Northeast Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player.
“We have a long season ahead of us so we definitely want to come out of the gate strong,” Sherman said via text message. “But our main focus should be to communicate well as a team and to remain focused, regardless of who we are playing.”
Alyssa Reiger, a right-handed bowler from Phillipsburg, and Allysha Howard, a left-hander from Downey, Calif., join the team as freshmen..
Howard has an accomplished background. She finished first in the Junior Amateur Tournament in 2019 and bowled her first Junior Gold Championship in 2018 after she finished 69th out of 382 participants in the Girls U15 division.
“I know what I’m here for and that’s to compete in high-stress moments. I live for moments like these,” Howard told The Equinox via text message.
To sustain the winning tradition, the Knights train to develop technique and deep concentration on team progression. The Knights prioritize a team dynamic of positive reinforcement and empowerment for every game. Whether it be big or small, a high five or fist bump guarantees the team’s high expectations of encouragement for every player.
However, this behavior is followed by almost two years of answering the challenges of athletic competition in the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020-21 season lasted for eight weeks due to the pandemic. Going into the 2021-22 season, the Knights are ready to bowl strikes and cheer each other on far into the postseason.
Some players have expressed their appreciation towards the team’s commitment and determination during these trying times.
“Every year we’ve had a new obstacle that was working against us and we’ve managed to overcome it each and every time,” right hand bowling junior Cameron Spring said via text message.
Stay tuned to find out how the Knights did in the NEC meet this past weekend.
FDU women’s bowling nationally ranked, heads into 2021-22 season.
Art by Melody Quito