In 2012, Huntington University will become the first Christian college in Indiana and only the fourth in the nation to offer bowling as a varsity sport.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) recognized bowling as an emerging sport in 2010 as a result of 25 member institutions declaring participation for that academic year.
"For Huntington University, we would like to be on the front end of this emerging sport," said Dr. Ron L. Coffey, vice president for student life. "There are bowlers looking for a Christ-centered, high-quality education, and who want to continue to compete in the sport they love. We want to make that opportunity available to them."
Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, the university will launch a men's and a women's varsity bowling team with 12 athletes per team. The season will run from October to April with multiple weekend tournaments throughout that time.
"We are very excited to add bowling as an intercollegiate sport for both men and women," said Athletic Director Lori Culler. "We know we have a tremendous number of outstanding bowlers here in our own community, and the success they've had has created a lot of enthusiasm for the sport. We hope to be able to tap into that talent pool often to give our programs some local flavor."
Last year alone, more than 300 boys and girls teams competed in Indiana, and many local high schools host teams, including Huntington North, Homestead, Blackhawk Christian, Snider and Carroll.
At the helm of HU's bowling program will be Jim Bischoff. No stranger to Huntington County, Bischoff started the Huntington North High School bowling program in 1999 and quickly developed it into one of the premier programs in the state.
In his 12 years as the boys' varsity head coach, the Vikings made six state appearances and captured two state titles with the most recent championship coming this past spring. He led the team to 10 conference championships and has compiled a career conference record of 59-7.
"My goal is to build a competitive bowling program at Huntington University," Bischoff said. "I'm looking forward to recruiting young men and woman who are not only quality bowlers and want to bowl at the next level but want a great education and be part of something special here. I'm looking for people who want to grow individually, be challenged athletically, academically and spiritually and who have a strong faith in God or who are open to the possibility of experiencing what God can do in their lives."