Beating the odds is what the Queen Bee bowlers do best. Not only do they have the honor of being the university's first-ever bowling team, but they're also competing in the national tournament in their first year of existence.
Adding to the list of unlikely odds is the team's level of collegiate experience. The team is comprised of first-year students (class of 2014): Lisa Beckmann, Jessica Cordrey, Taylor Garvey, Kelly Granzow, Katrina Hager, Jena Keimig, Melissa Noe, Leah Perez, Brooke Post, Deanna Ptak, Katelyn Seaba, and Metchelle "Memie" Williamson; and one junior, Nicole Porter '12.
During the Las Vegas Sectional in mid-March, the women placed third and in doing so, secured their spot at the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships in El Paso, Texas, April 14-17, at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center.
"It's an amazing feeling," says Granzow '14. "Being a new team, we weren't sure what was going to happen with our season. By making it to nationals our first year, it makes you think you can do anything."
As far as competition goes, the Queen Bees have met these teams before in prior tournaments.
"It's not going to be easy," says Williamson. "We know how tough they can be."
Best total pin-fall from the top four teams at the Last Vegas Sectional earned the right to advance. Cal State-Fresno won with 12,294 pins, Robert Morris took second with 12,050 total pins, St. Ambrose was third with 11,846 pins, and West Texas A&M had 11,795 pins. The 12 other teams that earned spots from their sectionals are Briarcliffe, Central Florida, Erie Community College, Florida State, Lindenwood, Maryland-Eastern Shore, McKendree, Pikeville, Webber International, Wichita State, Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Wright State.
Leading them in that tough fight is head coach Donna Slane, who her players call "inspiring" and "wise." A top Midwest bowler herself, Slane transfers her years of experience to her Queen Bees. She possesses the ability to spot weaknesses in her player's shots and then show how to correct them. In the coaching world, Slane's a double threat.
So, if anyone's keeping score, here's how the Queen Bees stand: Motivated team, check. Skilled bowlers, check. Killer coach, check. Seasoned players? Not yet, but it has distracted their competitors.
"Our hard work and focus on the lanes paid off in the end," says Ptak '14. "We're considered the underdogs, and I don't think anybody expected us to make it to nationals."
"It should give us really good motivation," says Granzow about being one of the top 16 teams in the nation. "It really proves that we can do anything we set our mind to."
And from now on, Ptak says, St. Ambrose has the attention of the collegiate bowling world.
"People are going to look at Ambrose and think, ‘Man, if the girls' bowling team went to nationals their first year, I wonder what's going to happen in the years to come,'" Ptak says. "Interest in St. Ambrose is going to increase, and people's eyes are definitely going to be on us now, waiting to see what the underdog can do."