By Nathanael Hawthorne
As the Youngstown State University women’s bowling team looks to enter its fourth season as a Division I program, it is ranked 23rd in the National Tenpin Coaches Association Top 25 Preseason Poll — the highest the team has been ranked since joining the Southland League.
“[Being ranked] means that other teams know we can be a threat,” junior Emma Dockery said about the ranking. “It’s a dedication to the team’s hard work, but results matter more than a poll does. … We just have to go out, play our game and then the poll will take care of itself and we will keep climbing it.”
In tournaments last year, the Penguins cracked the top 10 in five of the 10 tournaments they participated in. Their best performance happened at the Kutztown University Invitational, where the team placed seventh out of 28 teams.
This year, the team has added two new faces as it looks forward to the new season. Another addition to the team is head coach Doug Kuberski. Although he joined the team in December of last season, his attitude and tenacity quickly translated into success for the team.
“Gaining an excellent coach who has so much knowledge of the sport has changed the way we did things and has helped us gain the confidence that we all knew we had,” senior team member Rachel Darrow said.
Under Kuberski’s leadership, the Penguins went 28-25 in head-to-head matches and went 14-6 in team matches. During that time, the team also had three wins over teams ranked in the top five. The Penguins only had one such win in two and a half seasons as a Division I program.
“Overall, I’m proud of the work we did,” Kuberski said. “I thought everyone played an intricate role in our success. Of course, it’s all about the ladies, and I’m very proud of the work they did.”
In an interview with YSU Sports, athletic director Ron Strollo commended Kuberski and said his experience and background shows his knowledge of what it takes to lead and be successful in a Division I program.
Before coming to YSU, Kuberski was an interim head coach at Arkansas State University, a top five program, and also started both the men’s and women’s bowling teams at Iowa Western Community College.
For the Penguins this year, team chemistry is at an all-time high, and so are the expectations for the team. According to Darrow, she expects great things of the team.
“We have such a strong team this year,” Darrow said. “We all grew close really fast on and off the lanes. The returnees made it a goal to make sure the newcomers would feel welcome since we are going to be a family and everyone should be comfortable, and I think we have done a good job of that.”
Dockery also believes the team can be a top 10 team in the conference.
“We have the talent to do so, but now it’s about executing and having fun,” Dockery said.
Kuberski also believes the team is hungry this year, and the members will bring excellence to every aspect of their game.
“If we stay focused on the process and how we do things, I see this group going far,” Kuberski said. “This team is hungry, and they know how important cohesiveness is. It’s been fun to see them work on chemistry and their identity. … I’m excited to see them continue to build their collective identity.”
The Penguins start their season Oct. 11 in the Columbia 300 Penguin Classic, held in Struthers, Ohio, which will be the first tournament on their home lanes. The three-day tournament will be one of six new tournaments the team will compete in this year.