It’s Wednesday afternoon during spring break and the Bulldog Bowlers, Bryant’s women’s bowling team, has just started a three-hour practice at Lang's Bowlarama in Cranston. One at a time, they select a ball, concentrate on their designated lane, and swiftly release a spiral to the opposite end. As the clatter of 10 pins echos from 60 feet away, onlooking team members give a quick thumbs up and offer a celebratory clap.
Bryant’s women’s bowling team is celebrating its first season as an NCAA Division 1 varsity team and had its first big win at the Lions Roar for National Cancer Society tournament on Long Island in early March. Next up is the East Coast Conference (ECC) Championships from March 24 to 26.
Women’s bowling — along with women’s golf and rowing — is one of three new university sports offered to students as of the 2022-2023 academic year.
“Overall, they’ve far exceeded every expectation I’ve had,” says Coach Morgan Walsh, who was charged with recruiting women for the new team.
The team consists of seven first-year students who are experienced bowlers.
“It’s good [being on a freshmen team] because we can start the traditions since there’s nothing before us,” says Abby Unson ’26.
Unson, a biology major on a forensics track, says bowling against high-caliber teams can be tough. However, the Bulldog Bowlers watch other schools and incorporate what’s working well into their routines.
“I think throughout the season we’ve progressively gotten better as a team,” says Kristy Murphy ’26, a literary and cultural studies major.
Bowling season starts in October and ends in April. During this timeframe, the team’s practices include drills, shots, and playing one another. The women bowl four days a week with two days of lift workouts; on the weekends, they partake in two- to three-day tournaments. At tournaments, they go head-to-head against teams through matches, which are judged by total pinfall.
Women’s bowling may be a recent addition to Bryant’s athletics (there is no men’s team), but the university had a club team for many years. Walsh says this season is focused on building the program’s foundation and helping the women take on leadership roles so they can become mentors and guide the team’s future bowlers.
“They have all just stepped up in a huge way and really elevated themselves to be Division 1 athletes,” Walsh says.
Looking at next year, Walsh says the team will have three additional bowlers. She’s also looking to expand the team’s schedule and to include several more tournaments.
In addition to being teammates, the women are roommates and share some classes. Walsh, who bowled collegiately and lived with a fellow bowler, says living together helps strengthen the team’s bond. The team is a tight-knit group and has chosen to live together next year as well.
“We cliqued immediately,” says Stephanie Kotropoulos ’26, who’s studying psychology.
The women say their favorite parts of being on the team include the friendships, competitiveness, bettering their game, and traveling. All agree that their first tournament win has been the biggest accomplishment so far.
On an individual basis, team members have been receiving recognition at tournaments. Olivia Hillman ’26, a literary cultural studies major, and Laura Clark ’26, a psychology major, have been honored with ECC Bowler and Rookie of the Week accolades and have made the All-Tournament Team at regional tournaments. Unson has also made All-Tournament Honors and All-Tournament Team.
Women’s bowling is now gearing up for the ECC Championships from March 24 to 26.
“I’m excited to see what the future brings for the team,” Kotropoulos says. “There’s just so much we can do.”