Walsh University has announced the addition of men's and women's bowling to its current list of sponsored sports for the 2018-19 season. With the addition of bowling, Walsh will now offer 21 recognized athletic teams with men's bowling serving as a club sport. Currently, the NCAA only sanctions women's bowling for championships.
Walsh Vice President/Director of Athletics Dale Howard has appointed James (JC) Heighway as the head coach for both the men's and women's teams. A 2010 Walsh alumnus, Heighway returns after previously serving as the head coach of North Canton Hoover High School. Including Heighway, the Cavaliers will have six alumni serving as Cavalier head coaches.
"In JC Heighway, we have hired a head coach who exudes passion on all the right fronts. Passion for Walsh, passion for the sport of bowling, and most importantly, passion for developing student athletes in mind, body and spirit," said Howard. "I am thrilled to welcome JC back to his Alma Mater to start men's and women's bowling and to build on his successes as head coach of one of the best high school programs in the state."
The Cavaliers will play their home games at Park Centre Lanes, on 7313 Whipple Avenue NW, in North Canton. The venue boasts 36 lanes and also hosts North Canton Hoover, GlenOak, Jackson, and Lake high school teams.
"I was presented with an opportunity to return to my school and build a program from scratch. My main goal in returning to Walsh University is to build a championship caliber team that will be competing on television for national championships," said Heighway. "The surrounding Stark, Tuscarawas, Wayne and Summit Counties have become powerhouses in the high school bowling world, and I hope that this new opportunity opens doors that were not there before. Athletes can come to Walsh, compete against the best in the nation, and get a top-notch education at a school that is continuing to grow and build. All of this can be done without having to travel out of state anymore."
Heighway joins Walsh from North Canton Hoover High School where he has served as the varsity bowling coach. He began his coaching career as the North Canton boys' junior varsity coach in 2006, leading the team to the first ever undefeated season as a junior varsity team in the Stark County High School Bowling Conference. The next season, he became the head coach for the girls' team, from 2007-2010. During that span, he led the girls to three consecutive district appearances. His team successes have included two Bowler of the Year award winners and four bowlers who shot perfect (300) games.
"When I started coaching in high school, my main goal was to build a winning team, teach young bowlers about the game, help mold young kids into adults, and give them tools that would help get them ready for post-high school life," said Heighway. "The staff at North Canton is top notch, and I am grateful for my time there. I had a hard time stepping away from the position that my dad and I built."
The NCAA Bowling Championship is a sanctioned women's championship in college athletics. Unlike many NCAA sports, only one championship is held each season with teams from Division I, Division II, and Division III competing together. Eight teams, all at-large selections, are chosen by the NCAA Bowling Committee to compete in the championships. The championship was first held in April 2004.
Currently the only other Division II NCAA team in Ohio is fellow Great Midwest Athletic Conference member Ursuline. No Division III schools currently have teams that compete in the NCAA, and Youngstown State is the only Division I school in state.
Other institutions such as Notre Dame College offer bowling as a club sport. The Falcons compete in the United States Bowling Congress.
In addition to Walsh, Kentucky Wesleyan is also set to start bowling, increasing the Great Midwest Athletic Conference's presence in the sport.
Bowling will be a winter sport. Teams will travel on the weekends to several different tournaments to prepare for the NCAA championships. The collegiate bowling season begins in October and ends in March, with championships typically held in April.