Bowling title came quick for Vandy

Four years ago when Vanderbilt announced it was adding women's bowling there were some sighs, groans and even a few jokes as many Commodore supporters felt other sports might be more appropriate. Saturday after Vanderbilt captured its first National Title few would question the Vanderbilt's administration's decision in 2003.

Vanderbilt, founded in 1873, had never experienced an NCAA Championship in a team sport. The 2007 Commodore bowling squad ended 130 years of frustration for Vanderbilt supporters. With the speed this new program picked up a title maybe Vandy should have started a bowling team a hundred years ago.

Saturday, Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor David Williams, who was instrumental in getting the program added as a sport, watched the championship from the Box Seat Sports Bar on a big screen TV with other Commodore supporters. Williams has had his eye on a bowling championship since before the program was initiated.

A beaming Williams acknowledged a championship was the top goal when he started the program, "I actually did, and I felt that we would have a good chance. I had no imagination we'd do it this quick; but boy, this is great."

Williams, who previously served under Gordon Gee at Ohio State, has seen many championship events but Saturday's thrilling title meet topped them all, "It was unreal. After having seen a lot of teams at Ohio State play for it, this was better than the Rose Bowl, this was better than being in the Final Four at Ohio State, this was just incredible to see not only that they won, but how they won, in seven games in the last frame. This was just incredible," said Williams.

While the credit for initiating the program goes to Williams and other VU administrators, the credit for actually winning the title goes to the players who practiced countless hours to reach their goal. One such player is freshman Josie Earnest of Vandalia, Illinois. Earnest, who was the number one high school bowling prospect in the nation as a senior, arrived at Vanderbilt just this past August.

Earnest quickly took a leadership roll and anchored the 2007 squad. It was her two consecutive strikes in the tenth frame of game seven that put an exclamation mark on Vanderbilt's National Championship. Josie, who bowled a 268 at a meet earlier this season in Arkansas, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Performer following the meet. After the victory, Josie commented to an ESPNU commentator that she had dreamed of being able to help lead her team to the NCAA as a freshman. Saturday that dream came true. Josie and her teammates have made the Commodore Nation proud.

Another person who deserves credit is Commodore head coach John Williamson. Williamson, who served previously as Vanderbilt's baseball Director of Operations, came to the program in September 2004 with no players and no equipment. He quickly recruited walk-on players and fielded a competitive team for the 2005 season. He later hand picked and recruited a group of scholarship players (this year's sophomores) led by Michelle Peloquin that finished fifth nationally in their freshmen season.

Saturday, after his team won the National Championship in just its third year of existence a stunned Williamson told ESPNU that, "To win a national title this quick is unbelievable. It's a tribute to the girls, it's a tribute to the administration for providing us with the resources to do this. It's a bit overwhelming right now."

It's a tribute to you, too, coach.


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