While many Illinois bowlers had a great deal of success this spring, few, if any, had more than Lockport’s Megan Szczepanski.
Szczepanski, the anchor bowler for Bellarmine University, helped the Knights win the Women’s Collegiate Club Championship, the first championship in program history, when they beat Adrian University.
En route to the title, Szczepanski, a senior, was also tabbed the MVP of the tournament.
“It was a good feeling,” she said. “We were confident and all believed in each other. We knew we had to do some work and bowl against some good teams and battle it out. Winning the title my senior year is definitely a great way to go out.”
Thanks in large part to Szczepanski, Bellarmine is now a known school across the bowling landscape as she has been the team president for the past two years.
“It definitely feels good to be a part of a growing program and bringing it to a new level,” she said. “I’ve gone to Junior Gold the past two years to help recruit.”
Club programs are different from NCAA schools and NAIA schools. While, like NAIA and NCAA Division III schools, club programs are unable to offer athletic scholarships, they also feature the possibility of little to no funding from the university.
Despite that, the school was able to beat many others in scholarship money, even though it was all academic, and Szczepanski ended up bowling for the Knights and made an immediate impact.
“I went down there on a visit and fell in love with the school,” she said. “I recruited them mostly. It is extremely frustrating in some ways with the lack of funding for club teams. We don’t get the recognition that others do.”
However, she was happy to be a part of the program and be one of the many successful bowlers from Illinois and, in particular, the Joliet area this past season.
“This year was huge for the girls at the college level,” she said. “It was a standout year for the area for sure and I’m happy for the success for all the girls.”
You may still see Szczepanski around the lanes going forward as she looks to further her education and potentially help coach.
“I have some possibilities of coaching at the college level,” she said. “I’m not sure what I will do yet. I hope to bowl in a couple of Women’s Tour events this summer.”