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Titan’s Bowling continues to grow and create history in the process

Written by on February 17, 2022

Image courtesy of Kodiak Creative

Story by Andrew Pietraszewski

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – In the program’s short, less than two-year history, the Illinois Wesleyan Women’s Bowling team has already seen three people take up the mantle of head coach.

But despite the constant shuffle, head coach Melissa Mutters says the transition has been smooth. 

 “Definitely with all the transitioning and all the improvements, we’re moving in the right direction and it’s been going really good so far,” said Mutters. 

Mutter, an ISU alum, took over the head coach position in January after interim head coach Nikki Miller stepped down. Miller took over the role after the inaugural Wesleyan bowling season saw Anthony Lunsford lead the way, who now serves as Mutter’s assistant. 

While some might expect there to be lingering tensions when a head coach becomes the assistant, Mutter says that working with Lunsford has been largely beneficial.

“Now that we have both Anthony and myself, both growing up in the bowling world, having experience bowling, both of us having bowled most of our lives, it’s been a really good transition period,” said Mutters.

“It’s been really nice having Anthony on board because he already knows a lot of the coaches, he knows a lot of the rules. When I was in the middle of this transition process, Anthony knew a lot of the things to do and guide me towards,” continued Mutters. 

Obviously, when there’s a coaching transition, the players are the ones who are largely affected by whoever takes over. IWU Junior Shea Atkins is one of those players who has seen all of the changes the program has seen throughout its time. 

“Last year, we just had one, Lunsford, and now we have them both. So we can get a little more one-on-one time when it comes to practice or when it comes to making adjustments,” said Atkins. 

A softball player throughout high school, Atkins only began bowling when the program started but has since become one of the players Mutters heralds as improving the most. Atkins credits her success to her ability to listen and perform any task that is asked of her. 

“I really listen. I think that’s why I’ve gotten to where I am today, is that I listen to what I’m told and it gets me to numbers that are pretty decent,” said Atkins. 

Atkins isn’t the only player who has shown growth throughout the season. A number of Mutters’ players have hit new personal records, including three in the last tournament, and school records have been passed quite a few times between the team already. 

“Last year, my score was 172 but then Laina [Chavarria] broke it at 174,” said Atkins.” Now I have it back [at 188].” 

Even with all the competitive growth and success, the team has seen under Mutters’ stead and as the season winds down, there’s one thing that Mutters hopes her players take away.

“What I really want for the team and for the girls is to just get a good experience out of it. I want them to meet people they’re gonna have for life. I want them to feel like they accomplished something going through college. They’re hitting the goals that they’re looking for, not just improving your bowling craft but really creating a culture going into next season too that they are a part of this team and they are valuable here, “ said Mutters.