They take their women's bowling seriously at Fairleigh Dickinson University, which has two campuses in New Jersey, one not far from New York City, in Teaneck. The Knights won national championships in 2006 and 2010 and play an ambitious schedule as a member of the Northeast Conference which also takes the sport seriously.
The greatest bowler in FDU history is Danielle McEwan, who bowls regularly on the PBA Tour and has won two major titles on the Professional Women's Tour. McEwan, who is from Stony Point in Rockland County, averaged 207.07 per game in her college career,
Arguably, second is Melanie Hannon from Cheektowaga, who was a standout at Maryvale and a four-time first team All-Northeast Conference selection from 2014-17. Hannon averaged 206.94 in her collegiate career.
Now, the latest star at Fairleigh Dickinson is another Western New Yorker, Cameron Spring of Allegany.
The former Selection VI All-Star from Allegany-Limestone was named NEC Rookie of the Year. Spring becomes the eighth Knight to earn the award; Hannon won in 2014.
The season was cut a bit short when the NEC Championship tournament, scheduled for last weekend, was canceled.
Spring compiled a 19.33 frame average in more than 450 Baker frames, filling 81.5% of those frames while recording 208 strikes. Spring was even better in traditional play, averaging 20.09 pins per frame and filling 85.6% of her 229 frames while striking 113 times. She usually bowled lead off for the Knights, a spot where she filled 85.7% of her 91 attempts and recorded 46 strikes for a 50.5 strike percentage.
Twice during the season she was NEC Rookie of the Week, including her helping the Knights win the Northeast Roundup earlier this month when she filled 94% of her 50 traditional frames and 91.9% of her 37 Baker frames and combined to total 52 strikes. She made the all-tournament team at the Monmouth Hawk Flight Invitational, when she had a 223.8 individual average, fourth best in the event.
She led all rookies in NEC matches with an 82.6 fill percentage and was second among league freshmen with 55 strikes and a 73% spare conversion rate. Over the season converted 88.1 of her single-pin spares.
"Cameron is so deserving of the NEC Rookie of the Year honor," Fairleigh Dickinson's veteran coach Mike LoPresti said. "She is one of the most coachable players we've ever had in our program. She's the whole package: a tremendous athlete, extremely bright, loves to work, communicates well, and is far more mature than her age. Her biggest asset is her honesty and accountability, especially during competitions.
"This made her an elite lead-off player in our lineup because it helped our team understand lane-pattern transitions and helped us make adjustments during competitions quicker. And it didn't hurt that she ended the season on fire, maintaining a frame average above 20 for most of the second half of the season, included a frame average above 22 during the last two tournaments. Cam will certainly one of the key ingredients in our quest to regain a NCAA postseason berth next season."
Spring committed to FDU in January of her senior year at A-L. The signing of her letter of intent came on her 18th birthday, making it a double celebration. She also played soccer and softball as a Gator and won five varsity letters overall. She was a second-place finisher in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship as a junior.
Not having the opportunity to compete in the NEC Championship tournament and perhaps go on to the NCAA Tournament of the ITC and ISC singles and team tournaments came as a huge disappointment to LoPresti and his team because the Knights ended the season on a 10-match win streak.
They were 66-38 overall, including a 937-835 win over Medaille in the Northeast Invitational in Croydon, Pa. in mid-January. Spring bowled only one game in that match. She hadn't cemented her place as the leadoff bowler for the Knights yet. That victory came after FDU's upset of Sam Houston State, the No. 2 ranked team in the nation.
"We hit our stride at the best time to do it, down the stretch run leading into the postseason," LoPresti said. "The hurt of our season not being able to be compete the NEC Tournament and possibly beyond, especially how well we were playing when it came screeching to halt, hasn't subsided yet for me and our entire program."
Ready for 2021?
While the status of the 2020 USBC Open and Women's Championships is in limbo because of the coronavirus pandemic, the national organization already is accepting registration for the 2021 USBC Open in Las Vegas. The national tournament will return to the 60-lane South Point Bowling Plaza for the third time and is scheduled to run from March 6 through July 18, 2021. July 17 will be the final day of competition. Visit BOWL.com/OpenChamp for information and to register.
The 2021 event will follow the same schedule being introduced for the 2020 tournament in Reno, Nev.
Doubles/singles squads, featuring four bowlers on each pair of lanes, will take place at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 5 p.m. and 11:45 p.m., and team squads will be held at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The start of the 2020 event is tentatively scheduled for May 23, continuing through Aug. 29. Registration is ongoing.