Three new sports to debut on campus this fall
With the addition of men’s and women’s bowling and women’s ice hockey, UM-Dearborn now offers 12 varsity sports and two varsity club sports.
Proof that bowling is indeed having a bit of a moment right now: It’s one of two new sports making debuts at UM-Dearborn this fall. And according to the new head coach of the men’s and women's teams, metro Detroit is a fitting place for the sport to be staging a comeback.
“Detroit actually used to be a bowling mecca in the 1970s,” said Head Coach Marti Marshall, a lifelong Ann Arbor resident who recently was inducted into Detroit’s Bowling Hall of Fame. “I had a friend tell me [the Detroit Hall of Fame] is as good as a national award. Detroit had the most bowlers anywhere in the U.S.—and we had the best bowlers.”
By the 1990s, though, the sport was stuck in the doldrums. Marshall said even some of the most storied bowling venues in the metro area had to close their doors. Then in the mid-2000s, came a glimmer of hope: “You started to see younger people get interested in bowling again, and with that, came new high school teams,” Marshall explained. “There are now 20 states that offer bowling as a varsity sport, and 37 that offer it as a club sport.”
As those students went onto college, university teams started popping up across the country— mostly as self-funded club sports. But UM-Dearborn is launching bowling as a full, varsity-level sport, with both men’s and women’s teams competing in the NAIA and the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference.
For Marshall, offering the sport at the varsity level is a big win for student-athletes, as it means that athletic scholarships will be available to bowlers.
“The most important thing is that they’re going to get their education from the University of Michigan,” Marshall said. “That, in itself, helps with the recruiting process.”
UM-Dearborn’s other new head coach, Tim Ames, is leaning on a few assets of his own to field the women’s ice hockey team—none bigger perhaps than the fact that the university has its own ice arena. Having home ice, he said, means student-athletes can expect excellent practice and game times.
Another big advantage: The university already has a solid ice hockey tradition. Head Coach Chris Haltinner recently logged his 100th win as the man behind the bench of the men’s team. Ames said Haltinner’s advice has been crucial in tackling all the challenges that come with starting a new team. “They’ve obviously been very successful in recent years, so it helps when you have a winning program you can try to mirror.”
Ames, who has been involved in starting teams from scratch before, said student-athletes also can look forward to the excitement that comes from being the first group of Wolverines in the door.
“It’s a chance to build a legacy,” he said. “Plus, it’s an opportunity for women to play beyond high school. They want to play. And I’ve seen more and more women get opportunities to coach—on both the men’s and women's’ side—because they have that higher-level collegiate experience.”
With the new additions, UM-Dearborn now offers 12 varsity sports and two varsity club sports. Director of Athletics and Recreation Matt Beaudry said the growth in athletics opportunities in recent years strengthens the student experience and helps promote the university.
"We are excited to add men's and women's bowling, along with women's ice hockey at UM-Dearborn. This will create a stronger representation at the conference and national level for the university,” said Athletic Director Matt Beaudry. “The new programs will bring tremendous value to our campus community and provide more opportunities for men and women to participate in athletics, while furthering their education at UM-Dearborn.”