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A Striking Knight

The University of Central Florida is like any other college in the aspect that it loves its sports. There are the traditional sports, of course, like basketball, football, soccer, baseball...and then there is bowling! Everyone knows what bowling is and has had that one odd weekend with their friends where everyone goes to bowl a few games and has a great time –  but did you know that UCF has its own bowling team? If you didn't, now you do!
Jordan Patrou is a sophomore, information technology major who is an experienced bowler on the UCF Striking Knights. Being on the bowling team is more than your average game (besides the fact that these players can out-bowl any one of us!), Jordan and the rest of the team recently got to go to a tournament in Las Vegas, which I thought was pretty awesome. I got the chance to ask Jordan some questions about the bowling team and his experiences, and I hope my fellow Knights learn a little something they may not have known about this competitive sport!
Q: How long have you been on the bowling team?
A: I've been bowling since I was 14, including high school level. At UCF I've been with the club since my Freshman year.

Q: How do you make it on the team? Is it men and women?
A: I randomly ran into some guys on the team while I was at Boardwalk Bowl one day and found out they were part of the club, so later that week I tried out and made the team. We have a men's team and a women's team typically, this year we are co-ed but are returning to two separate teams next year.

Q: When is bowling season?
A: It starts the last weekend of September and depending on how far you go in the postseason, it can last until the end of April.

Q: Do you travel around to play other colleges?
A: There are Tier 1 and Tier 2 tournaments. Tier 1 tournaments generally have between 30 and 70 teams and Tier 2s have around 10 to 15 teams in the field.

Q: How is the team from a national stance?
A: Over the course of the entire program, UCF has generally been one of the highest rated programs in the country. This year we have fallen off the pace, but with the return of our former coach and some top prospects coming in next year, we will again be a very competitive team.

Q: How did the team get to go to Las Vegas for a tournament?
A: The tournaments out in Vegas were two Tier 1s over four days. At the beginning of the year we pick around eight tournaments and budget around going to those and the Vegas tournaments were one of our choices.

Jordan (in blue) and fellow teammates in Las Vegas!

Q: What did you do there? How did the team do at the tournament?
A: Apart from bowling, we were busy nearly every minute there. We went down to the strip a few times and checked out all the hotels there. There is one hotel called Stratosphere, which has thrill rides at the top which are around 900 feet in the air where everybody had a time to remember. The performances we had at the two tournaments weren't our best showings of the year, but we were still in the top 50% of the field in both.

Q: Have you been in any other tournaments?
A: This year we have been to a few interesting places. To open the season we went out to Wisconsin. We have also been to Illinois, Indiana, and Atlanta, as well as Vegas. There have also been a few local tournaments in Orlando, Gainesville, and Tallahassee. For sectionals, the beginning of the postseason, the team is going to Smyrna, Tennessee. 

Q: How do you like the experience, and what is your best memory from your time with the club? 
A: I've had so many great times with the guys over the two years I've been here. Travel weekends are always the most fun and we just enjoy ourselves and have a ton of fun together.
The best memory so far would be our trip to sectionals last season. Top four at sectionals make it to nationals for a chance at the title. The format is 64 baker games (One team game, where bowlers rotate order, so the bowler in frame 1 bowls frame 6, frame 2 bowls in frame 7, etc.) over two days. We came into sectionals ranked around 40th in the country overall and we were in a stacked sectional. Nobody was picking us to advance through the sectional. After day one, and 32 baker games, we were in 5th sitting about 125 pins behind 4th. We started day 2 poorly just as we had done day 1. After 16 more baker games and a lunch break, we were still sitting in 5th, within touching distance of 4th, and a dream trip to nationals. 14 games into the last block, leaving 2 games left, and the position round comes up. This leaves us sitting in 4th, with a 50 pin cushion on 5th, who is bowling right next to us. They come out and shoot a 279 game and leaving us nearly 50 pins behind them now and essentially crushing our chances to move on.
We ended up finishing just 70 pins out of 4th, but the experience is something I will always remember. All members of the team should be so proud of the performance we put in. We nearly shocked the college bowling world, but came up just short in the end.

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