ROCKFORD — Despite having nearly two decades of experience coaching the Rochelle varsity boys bowling team, Doug Koch hadn’t had the chance to participate in an athletic signing ceremony for any of his players. That changed Thursday evening, when Hub senior Brady Shank became the first Rochelle bowler under Koch to sign a National Letter of Intent to play at the college level. Shank will be continuing his career with the Rock Valley College Golden Eagles.
“It feels great knowing he’s going to carry the sport on,” Koch said. “I know Brady’s going to fit right in and I think he’s going to do great… They’re going to get an awesome player. He has the talent, and as long as he continues hitting his mark and keeping his feet slow on the approach, he’s going to throw some nice games. Watching him develop over the last four years was almost like watching a son grow up.”
Shank was one of five high school bowlers to sign his letter with Rock Valley College on Thursday. After playing as a club team for many years, the Golden Eagles officially became an NJCAA intercollegiate bowling program this past year. Shank said he’s looking forward to playing the sport he loves at the next level.
“I feel really accomplished because I never thought I’d be able to take my game to this level,” Shank said. “I always thought that I would be done with bowling after high school… If I hadn’t put so much dedication into the sport, I wouldn’t have wanted to bowl. The idea of bowling in college made me really want to continue playing.”
Shank spent four years with the Rochelle boys bowling program, playing on the varsity level all four seasons while helping the Hubs reach sectionals during his junior year. The senior qualified for sectionals as an individual this winter, shooting 1,245 over six games for an average of over 207. Shank’s senior season included a high series score of 706 and a high game of 254. His average increased from 166.2 to 190.1 from his freshman year to his senior year.
“I’m looking forward to traveling and being part of a new team,” Shank said. “It will be a new experience and a fresh start. I feel like I can bring team chemistry since I know a lot of the guys already, and I feel that I have the skills to keep up with them. Bowling varsity as a freshman really opened my eyes to the competition out there, and each year I feel that I got better. If it weren’t for Doug, I don’t feel I’d be as skilled as I am right now.”