Lopes end seven months of anticipation with first day of practice
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
Seven months. To the day.
The Grand Canyon University Bowling team was literally loading the vans to head to Dallas, Texas and the ITC Sectionals Tournament last March when word came down that the COVID-19 pandemic had scuttled that plan and the rest of their (and every other club sport’s) season at GCU.
Seven months later, at the Lopes’ first official day of practice Monday at Thunder Alley on the GCU campus, it wasn’t just ‘masks up’. It was “spirit and motivation up”, too.
“It feels great to be back, and having the new students interact with the returners is always fun,” said Lopes’ Head Bowling Coach Ben Canfield. “This is what they love, and I love to coach, so I’m just glad we have the resources to do this, since not every school has six lanes on campus.”
The extra month delaying the first practice is far from the only adjustment the team has had to make. While Thunder Alley has been a ‘home venue’ for the Lopes, due to its lack of lanes, the team’s main practices are normally held at Glenfair Lanes in Glendale. However, since there are no organized practices allowed off-campus during the fall, that possibility was negated. In addition, besides constant wearing of masks and no sharing of bowling balls, Canfield has mandated that bowlers must stay on the same lane the entire practice, which is uncommon.
“It’s a bit of an adjustment, but we’ll make it work,” said Lopes’ sophomore bowler and returner Nathan Ryan. “Since we’re in smaller groups, it makes it much easier to get to know people, talk with the newer kids, and see how we can help them. It’s exciting.”
“It was nice to see – from our first informational meeting on – how there was no groaning or mumbling (about the new guidelines),” said Canfield. “They all had the mindset of, ‘This is what we have to do to be able to bowl, and we’re going to do it.’”
While the ‘new normal’ has taken he and his teammates out of their old comfort zones, Ryan is just happy to interact with them again after an all-too-quiet summer.
“Being from Ohio, I didn’t have a lot of contact with them – other than some phone and Zoom meeting calls,” Ryan said. “But having some of the guys room with me and knowing some of the newer guys has definitely made the adjustment easier.”
Even though practice time has been lost due to the new rules, Canfield, a star bowler in his playing days, realizes that harder drills should still be eased into.
“This week is just about letting them get back into a rhythm,” said Canfield. “I’m aware they haven’t bowled in a while, so their games aren’t close to where they normally are. So the biggest thing I can do is just remind that this is fun, and to just let their games get naturally back into the swing of things.”
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