The 2012-13 VU Blazer Bowling team will once again defend its NJCAA national championship in Buffalo, NY, in early March.
This academic year begins a bowling season with a squad that is probably the youngest in Trailblazer coach Gary Sparks' VU tenure. In comparison to the four-year schools that VU competes against, the Trailblazers are always young but this season - with 10 incoming freshmen added to the crop of five returning bowlers - looks to be "an interesting challenge for the upcoming year," Sparks said.
"Being young has never been something I've used as an excuse though,," the long-time successful coach added. "We still expect to continue the long-standing tradition of Trailblazer success, not only at the NJCAA but at the USBC Collegiate level as well."
Sparks said VU is looking to two returning bowlers who gained "extensive experience" last year - NJCAA All-Americans Jalen Scott-Jones (defending NJCAA All-Events Winner) and Dan Healy - for much-needed and valuable leadership to a core of freshmen that Sparks is counting heavily on.
"I think they can have a big impact very quickly, with some hard work and dedication to bringing their level of play up to collegiate standards," Sparks said of the first-year bowlers. "I look for additional contributions from my remaining returning players who were able to get some good experience in a few events last year. The freshmen will have to really commit to doing the things it takes to make their games 'collegiate-ready' because the transition to this level of the sport is always tough."
Sparks said he and the Trailblazers should have a good early barometer of how their preseason preparation pays off.
"As always, we'll get an early test of where we stand with our first tournament, the Tier 1 Midwest Collegiate Classic in Milwaukee, WI, which will have a field of over 40 of the top teams from the midwest and around the country," he said. "It's going to be an exciting year, seeing how fast this group can become a 'team' and really work to make our potential become a reality."