WICKLIFFE, Ohio -- When Kimi Davidson signed to bowl at Sam Houston State five years ago, she had a coach, but she had no teammates.
Davidson was the school’s first bowling recruit. Not the first one five years ago, the first one.
So how does a player good enough to earn a spot with more established programs decide to go to one where nothing but a head coach is in place?
And what was that?
“He said, ‘do you want to win a national championship?’”
On its own, for many, that may have been an unbelievable statement. But after Saturday night, when Sam Houston State defeated Nebraska to win its first title in just its fourth year of competition, it turned out to be accurate.
“He was gung ho for it,” she said. “He said, ‘I’ll give you the opportunity.’”
And when Davidson had the opportunity in the title match, she took advantage of it – multiple times.
In the fourth game, Davidson needed two strikes in the 10th frame to win the game for her team and calmly stepped up and did it. Then, two games later, when she needed a mark and six pins to clinch that national championship that was promised to her, she got the spare, and a strike on the fill ball just to be sure.
“Coach and I made a couple of adjustments,” Davidson said. “After that, I just took a deep breath and let the ball roll. It was a matter of making a little adjustment and just going after it.”
Hagen said his anchor player took it to another level.
“That was by far one of the best shots she threw all night,” Hagen said of the clinching shot, “maybe of the whole weekend.
“We did decide on an adjustment, but she made it look really, really good. She stuck it. She posted it really well and did everything you’re supposed to do in that situation.”
Hagen said it was a combination of his enthusiasm for what could happen and Davidson’s passion for the sport that made convincing Davidson to take the leap a little bit easier.
“When you have people who can be very enthusiastic, very passionate and very committed, we like to think it can carry over,” Hagen said. “It’s very easy to hopefully jump on that – I don’t want to call it a bandwagon, but those are big principals.
“If you can convey those, [players] can really accept what could be and really believe that the sky is the limit. Conveying the right messages from the beginnings and understanding what the mission is. [Davidson] was the first to buy into it.”
Davidson actually graduated in December will start graduate school at Texas A&M in the fall and hopes to continue bowling.
“I want to bowl the Women’s U.S. Open, the Queens. I don’t know about coaching,” she said with a bit of a chuckle. “But I could see that happening.”