ROCHELLE — Brady Shank’s freshman bowling season with Rock Valley College couldn’t have wrapped up any better than it did over the weekend, when Shank and his Golden Eagle teammates finished first at the NJCAA National Championship in Cheektowaga, New York.
It didn’t take long for Rock Valley College to reach the pinnacle of the junior college men’s bowling scene, bringing home a national title in only the program’s second year of existence. The Golden Eagles totaled 13,751 pins during the tournament, edging out defending champion Iowa Central and improving on their runner-up finish from 2019. Shank contributed to the team effort through his participation in singles play and also in the Baker format where he struck on 75 percent of his shots.
“It was pretty surreal,” said Shank, who bowled varsity at Rochelle Township High School for four years and advanced twice to the state sectionals. “The reason I wanted to go to Rock Valley College was to bowl and help the team win a national championship. It’s one of the greatest feelings I’ve had throughout my bowling career.”
Shank and the Golden Eagles will compete in the USBC College Bowling Sectionals in Addison this weekend in a field of the region’s top teams. The top four teams from the Addison sectional will advance to the Intercollegiate Team Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan in April.
While Shank has been in and out of the starting five during the season, he said his first collegiate bowling experience has been extremely positive, and he said the experience has helped him mature on and off the lanes.
“The amount of progression I’ve seen from myself as a bowler and as a person has skyrocketed because of my teammates and the bonds and relationships I share with them,” Shank said. “I never expected bowling to become so important to me… It was probably the best year I’ve had as a bowler, and I have nobody else to thank but my teammates and my coaches.”
Shank is enjoying his hands-on education in the welding program at RVC, and said he’s motivated to return for a second bowling season and earn a full-time spot in the starting lineup. He added that bowling collegiately has taught him how to stay level-headed on the lanes and improve the slight flaws in his mechanics.
“The biggest adjustments I made were on my form,” Shank said. “I’ve worked on the little things like my hand position and my footwork. I could get away with a lot more bowling on a house shot than I can on a sport shot… I used to be set off by little things like leaving a 10-pin or solid 8-pin, but I’ve learned how to pick my spares up and move on with my game. I feel that I’ve really developed as a bowler and as a person.”