Back in January, Thomas More College hosted its first bowling tournament of the season in Newport, Kentucky. The University of Louisville’s combined score earned the Cardinals the title, beating a field of eight from all over the region.
UofL senior Kyle Abell earned the all-tournament total event. Kyle’s mom, Patty Abell, a program assistant senior in Physical Plant, has been the team’s adult sponsor since 2014. When UofL won, she described herself as “an overexcited sponsor, an elated confidant and, more so, a tickled pink mom.”
“The university should be excited and proud of these individuals who have devoted their time as students, maintaining the proper GPA in order to compete; as fundraisers, helping raise money to cover the cost of the tournaments and the hotel expenses; and as victors, because they never gave up on their school, their coach or their team,” Abell said.
The UofL bowling team is marking its 10th season this year. It began with a limited season in 2007-08, when Daniel Palmer brought it to campus. He and his brothers bowled for St. Xavier High School and wanted to continue participating in the sport in a competitive environment in college.
Palmer is now a UofL graduate and is the nephew of head coach Bob Hillerich, who took over during the 2013-14 season.
“Daniel jumped through many hoops and spent countless hours of paperwork to get the team started. He is like the godfather of UofL bowling,” Hillerich said.
Hillerich’s son, Kiefer, is a current team member. Other than that, this is Hillerich’s only affiliation with the school. He is a technical consultant at Humana by day.
Though the sport isn’t varsity-level at UofL, it frequently competes against varsity teams around the region. There are currently nine bowlers on the men’s team. Each tournament competition has a maximum roster allotment of eight players, so tryouts are held prior to each event – usually 10 throughout the season.
Hillerich continues to coach because he enjoys seeing the players’ improvement throughout the season.
“I enjoy seeing their ‘light’ come on and their game go to the next level,” he said. “My favorite part is the camaraderie among teammates on and off the lanes and the vibe from the team during competition, especially when the team is firing on all cylinders.”
As the season draws to a close, Hillerich said this has been one of the most successful years for the team in its 10-year history. He hopes to bring that momentum into next season and beyond.
“The best chance to ensure continued success will be a consistent effort toward player improvement, attention to detail and creating a team atmosphere,” he said.
UofL did have a women’s team during the fall semester, but participation whittled down when some members left for internships or changed their status from full-time to part-time student. Palmer’s original team was co-ed, which Hillerich said was unusual at the time, since bowling itself was so new to the school.