Way back in 2002, a small group of girls approached Special Education teacher Kelly Rumel about starting up a girls bowling program. And although the regular season had already begun, the team started competing on the lanes in late December with only a varsity team and Rumel at the helm. By year two of the program, the Spartans were competing in the Illinois High School Association State Finals.
Now sixteen years later, Rumel has taken the program to a high level overall and in the South Suburban Conference Red and was recently recognized as the best at what she does. For the first time in her career as head coach, Rumel was named the South Suburban Conference Girls Bowling Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season.
“I have enjoyed working with bowlers to hone their skills and maintain that passion that comes from being a part of something,” Rumel said. “It has been rewarding for me to hear of the many accomplishments former team members have earned at the collegiate level. I am very appreciative that the SSC recognized me as this year’s COY. I have great regard for all coaches and the hard work they put into their sports.”
The Spartans finished the SSC season with a record of 10-3 this year and finished second at the conference meet, falling just four pins short of winning a title. The highlight was a season-high game of 1,021 pins at conference, which was an average of 204 pins per bowler. And in the end, four Spartan bowlers were named as all-conference members.
“This year’s team is the most skilled to date,” Rumel said. “What sets us apart is how the Lady Spartans have learned to support one another. In bowling, no one individual can carry a win. The opponents we face are likewise skilled. Our focus this year is confidence.”
“My assistant coach and I teach the girls to look forward. There will always be splits and difficult shots, but we cannot let the pins we miss be our focus. The girls are reminded to exhale and visualize where the ball needs to go. Approaching the lanes confidently has made a big difference in our game. The cheering and comradery is what reminds all the girls it takes an entire team to bring home a win.”
This year, that focus is what helped earn a Coach of the Year Award for Rumel and Oak Lawn.