Lady Rolling Tigers ready to begin 11th season

The Grambling State University Lady Rolling Tigers Bowling Team will enter its 11th year on the collegiate level. The Lady Rolling Tigers are under the Southwestern Athletic Conference, NCAA, and USBC organizations. They compete in SWAC, NCAA, and USBC tournaments. The team’s accomplishments are numerous and have held prestigious titles winning a SWAC Championship, and several members of the various teams selected to various SWAC bowling elite tournament teams throughout the years.

There is no better way to celebrate Homecoming than to have the first season’s tournament for the Lady Rolling Tigers in the same weekend. The Tigers will bowl in Bossier City at Holiday Lanes, 3316 Old Minden Road, Bossier City, on Friday beginning at 10 a.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

Upcoming season

Coach Barbara Lewis is excited about the upcoming season and looks forward to hopefully bringing home a title to GSU. She attributes her excitement to the fact that she knows that the girls are very talented. In practice they are demonstrating excitement and determination, she said. The motto this year is “pride, determination, and resilience,” which are what it takes to become champions.

Unforeseen injuries and a traumatic automobile accident plagued the team this past Spring. An addition to the program which has immensely helped to improve the agility and stamina is a coordinated conditioning workout program. Thomas Stallworth and an assistant were recently hired to oversee the athletic conditioning program for the various teams and they are doing a magnificent job.

On the other hand, Lewis is sad because she will be losing four seniors in the spring. Aside for being a coach and team, the Lady Tigers have a unique bonding which develops after spending endless hours together, she said. She noted that there are few former athletes that she has not remained in contact with after they left GSU.

Many talented players

“Newly arrived freshman Brittney Bryant of Los Angeles will play an influential role in this season’s success,” Lewis said. The coach went on to recognize that GSU has an athlete who is multi-talented in Kayla Williams. She is a volleyball player who was selected to the SWAC All Tournament Team last season, as well as being Calendar Girl Miss August and a KGRM on-air radio personality. She also works with the GSU Sports Network, and plays an integral role in the success of the Lady Rolling Tigers.

The starters for the Lady Rolling Tigers this year are:senior/captain McCall Long of Chicago; senior Ashley Dowdy (honor student) of Chicago; senior Damona Richards (honor student) of Humble Texas; Lateona Boyce (honor student) of Chicago; junior Kayla Williams (honor student) of Toronto; freshman Brittney Bryant of Los Angeles; and sophomore/captain Quinell Wilson (honor student) of Chicago.

“The team is family oriented,” Lewis said. Two seniors Ashley Dowdy and McCall, are cousins. Togetherness over the years is also an attribute among the team since three of the team members bowled together on a high school team. Finally, the majority of the team are descendents of bowlers.

Coach Lewis is never shocked by the accomplishments of her student-athletes because she tells them to pray and reach for the sky in whatever their endeavors are.

Recently, Tyelisa Shields, a December 2007 graduate and team member (Most Valuable Player 2007) was honored and awarded a full fellowship by the Associates’ Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management and Privacy. She will use the fellowship to continue her studies in the Master of Science Information Security Technology and Management Program. In addition to the fellowship, she will be mentored by an EWF participant who is a woman at a senior level in the information security field.

Coaching staff honors

Other than Lewis, who is an assistant professor in the Kinesiology, Sport and Leisure Studies, the coaching staff is multitalented. Assistant coach Oscar Epps Jr. is an instructor in the Math Department. Before becoming coaches they had “several” years of bowling participation in leagues and tournaments and continue to bowl outside of coaching.

Both coaches have had extensive training in coaching bowling. One of the most memorable training experiences they will never forget was being selected to participate in a bowling summit and training course at the U.S. Olympic Training Camp in Colorado Springs Colo. Both are bronze- and silver-level certified. They are both certified to teach Principles of Coaching on both the high school and collegiate level.

Coach Lewis has been Coach of the Year for the SWAC. She has been a tournament official for several years at the U.S. Junior Gold Bowling Olympics and the USBC Collegiate Championships. During the Spring of 2007 she was appointed to the NCAA National Championship Bowling Committee. During the 2008 National Championship held in Nebraska she officiated.

She said it will always be something she will never forget because she had the opportunity to watch history in the making. For the first time in the history of NCAA bowling, dreams became a reality when coach Sharon Brummell of Maryland-Eastern Shores became the first woman, and first minority to be named Coach of the Year. More impressive was for the first time in the history of the sport under the auspices of the NCAA, an HBCU institution won the championship title.

Coach Lewis attributes a large portion of her success to having the opportunity to work with great coaches like Eddie G. Robinson, Fred Hobdy, Willie Jeffries, Wilbert Ellis, Patricia Bibbs, and David “Rusty” Ponton. Her success is further demonstrated in following the footsteps of two former GSU coaches and Hall of Fame inductees Robinson and Ellis. Coach Ellis continues to be an NCAA baseball board member when she was appointed to the NCAA Women’s Bowling Committee in 2007. She is responsible for the Central Region division of the U.S. NCAA bowling teams.

Coach Lewis said that although none of the games are local, the team would appreciate any support from Grambling State and the Ruston communities.