After an announcement made last semester, Mercyhurst’s DII Women’s Bowling team is set to have its first season this winter, becoming the 25th varsity team on campus.
“We announced it around December last year, and we’ve been able to put a pretty good class together in a short amount of time,” Athletic Director Brad Davis said. “Typically when you have a varsity program it takes a year and a half to two years to really get going. They’re excited to get going.”
The Lakers are set to compete within the East Coast Conference (ECC), replacing Long Island University Post in the conference to keep the ECC’s total at 13 teams. The ECC is also the largest women’s bowling conference within the NCAA. The conference includes several familiar opponents of the Lakers. Kutztown University, Daemen College and Roberts Wesleyan University are also members of the ECC.
Davis also stressed that none of the other competing area universities offer bowling programs, and that Mercyhurst would be fulfilling a gap in the community, as well as some within the Lakers’ own athletic offerings on campus.
“We felt we needed some more opportunities for our female student athletes and bowling has always been popular at the adult level and the youth level, but there’s always been a gap in the collegiate level,” Davis said. “There were professional bowlers in town, interested in coaching. There were other programs that would have been more complicated and more expensive, and bowling was one where we could have ready pretty quickly and also be successful pretty quickly.”
The Lakers’ home alley will be Rolling Meadow Lanes, located on Erie’s West Side. Michael Machuga is set to coach the Lakers for their inaugural season. Machuga is a profressional bowler, and has actively coached since 2003. He also owns Next Level Pro Shop in Erie. Previously, Machuga had also served as an assistant women’s golf coach for the Lakers.
In addition to Coach Machuga, the Lakers also announced Haley Youker and Samantha Schurr as two recruits for the inaugaral team last May. Youker is a transfer from Lincoln Memorial University, while Schurr is a freshman recruit fom East Hampton High School in East Hampton, NY.
“I think within a few years we’ll be competing for conference championships, and we’ll be one of the better programs in the region. We’re excited, and bowling’s a popular sport in Erie. We think the community will support it and will want to be a part of it.”
Look to catch the first Lakers women’s bowling team when they start this November, with the season concluding in March.