As the 2018-19 school year begins at Oklahoma Christian University, 23 new student-athletes recently stepped onto campus to compete in the athletic department’s newest sport—bowling.
With Oklahoma Christian now officially a member of the United States Bowling Conference (USBC), head coach James Hayes recruited 14 men and nine women from across the country to represent the Eagles in regional tournaments during this inaugural bowling season.
Hayes coached for three years at Edmond Memorial High School, then for seven years at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). Hayes is joined by assistant coach Jerry Pecoraro to help with the first season. Pecoraro coached alongside Hayes at UCO prior to his transition to Oklahoma Christian.
“Jerry brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to OC,” Hayes said, “He relates well to the athletes and understands the collegiate game. Jerry will work a lot with our lady bowlers, as this has been a specialty of his and having a daughter bowl at the collegiate ranks helps as well.”
Sophomore Keaton Hayes, one of three Oklahoma Christian men’s bowlers from Cabot High School, said Pecoraro will be a great addition to the leadership of the program.
“He is another brain to the team,” Hays said. “He has coached a lot of college bowlers, so he will add another side of coaching.”
Oklahoma Christian’s roster, for both men and women, consists of only three upperclassmen, but Hayes said he does not believe the youthfulness of the team will hinder their success this season.
“We are not as experienced as some teams, but that can help us, too – maybe not this season, but as we move forward,” Hayes said, “Down the line, it will work to our benefit.”
Freshman Taylore Ryan said she actually prefers the younger group and thinks it will play to their advantage, believing the team will get along well because they have a common goal.
While a bowler at Allen High School, Ryan won the Dallas USBC Youth High Series Award and received All-District Honors for the 2016-2017 year.
“It will be good over time,” Ryan said. “We will grow as a team and one day, a bunch of freshmen will turn into a bunch of seniors. By communicating and talking to each other if the lane is breaking down, and just helping each other out as a whole, we will get to where we need to be. Our goal is to be national champions.”
Despite bowling being an individual sport, Coach Hayes said communication and selflessness is an asset often overlooked when bowling. He believes both will be essential to the team’s successful development in this inaugural year.
“Bowling has long been thought of as an individual sport, but in college it is totally a team sport,” Hayes said. “This concept will be new for some of our bowlers as most of their tournament experience has been as an individual. Some of our bowlers do have some high school team experience but not to the level that collegiate bowling requires.”
Both the Eagles and Lady Eagles bowling teams will utilize AMF Boulevard Lanes in Edmond as their home venue and everyday practice facility. Their season will open on Sept. 22, in Amarillo, TX, at the Southwest Intercollegiate Bowling Conference’s first event.