Winning the mental game
UMES' Ramirez says edge this season is in her head
CANTON, Mich. -- By all accounts, Anggie Ramirez didn't have many improvements to make after the 2011-12 season concluded. Her Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks won the national championship, she was an All-MEAC first-team selection, earned All-American second-team honors and fired the highest single game in the MEAC (277).
However, it was an honor she didn't get that let her know something was missing.
"After I didn't make Team Colombia last year, it was a little bit rough," Ramirez, a native of Bogota, Colombia, said. "I felt like I was a little bit weak, so this year was more about getting together my mental game. I think that was the next step I had to make to becoming a better bowler."
And so, this star player who also has played volleyball on an international stage, began the process of improving her mental outlook.
"There were doubts in my game and my confidence, as well," Ramirez said. "So I worked really hard on it. I've felt a real change. I just feel better prepared to compete tan I was a year ago."
Part of that preparation included seeing two sports psychologists, one that normally works with the Maryland-Eastern Shore team and another in Colombia. Apart from the mental aspects, Ramirez also saw on-lane changes that she wasn't expecting.
"Mental game improvements also help your physical game," she said. "If you're not confident in a shot, it's different than if you're just doubting your mental game and if you're doubting yourself as a person than if you're just doubting the lanes or the movements that you have to make.
"It helps you be a little more objective instead of thinking 'it could be me.' It could be the lanes changing instead of something you did."
The results of this new mindset have been startling. Ramirez has averaged nearly 213 for 53 games this season, including a pair of 279s. She's a member of the MEAC Championship All-Tournament Team and the Most Outstanding Performer. She was a six-time MEAC Player of the Week and two-time tournament MVP.
Most importantly for Ramirez, however, she was named the conference's Player of the Year -- something she's often called a dream of hers.
"When I was named rookie of the year when I was a freshman, I saw how Maria Rodriguez [a former UMES teammate] was named player of the year," she said. "And considering the MEAC and the size of it, I always made it a goal of mine and a dream that in the three years I had ahead of me that I could win the player of the year and I earned it so it's a great satisfaction."
Ramirez also climbed a ladder she wanted to reach the top of.
"My sophomore year, I earned All-American third team," Ramirez said. "My junior year, I earned All-American second team and so my goal at the beginning of the year was to be second team or higher. I couldn't go lower, because I have been improving."
And as of Wednesday night, she's now a first-team All-American. "It's a thrill and a satisfaction that I just can't describe," Ramirez said.
Her head coach, Kristina Frahm -- a former teammate of Ramirez, said the work has defintely produced results.
"She's had the problem of just taking too long [on the approach]," Frahm said. "We've worked on speeding that up and she's worked really hard and we've seen big improvement all season."
However, Frahm is quick to point out that the work is not done -- ever.
"It's a continuous thing, your mental game," Frahm said. "She's still working very hard on it."
This week comes the biggest challenge to Ramirez's mental game -- trying to lead her team to a third consecutive national championship. Things started tough for UMES in Thursday's early match-play block. While Nebraska, Fairleigh Dickinson, Arkansas State and Wisconsin-Whitewater all went 3-1, the Hawks lost their first three matches before beating Arkansas State in the final match. Ramirez averaged 201.7 for the session.
Still, she remains confident.
"Out of my four years, this is the year that I feel the most prepared," Ramirez said. "I feel good and the team feels good and that really brings up my confidence."