GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T bowling team has a different look for the 2012-13 season.
It's a look of determination, focus and hunger from winning that comes from having a full complement of student-athletes with experience in high-level competition.
"They're focused right now, and that's a good thing. It's a lot different than what it has been in the past," said A&T head coach James Williams, who is starting his fourth season with the program. "The cast that we've brought in, which is technically my first recruiting class, they look pretty good and there's a nice foundation to go forward from."
In the past, the A&T bowling team has often filled its ranks with walk-ons who had to be taught some of the basics of competitive bowling. This year, Williams rounded out his roster with athletes who already have mastered the basics through his five-person recruiting class. The new Aggies join returners Amber Brown (sr.) and Cherise Poole (jr.).
"With everybody already knowing what they're doing basically from the approach to the foul line, we can start work on the advanced techniques and we can work with everybody. It's a growing experience for everybody going forward," Williams said.
And Williams hopes that with a more advanced group, the young A&T team can advance to a better record than their 25-66 overall and 7-23 MEAC finish last season. The Aggies are working to earn the program's fifth MEAC championship title, and the first in nine seasons.
"When we recruited the girls this year, the sole purpose was to get back into the MEAC (tournament) and be competitive," Williams said. "I think with the class that we've brought in and everything we've been doing in the offseason getting ready, I think we have a really good shot."
The Aggies will be starting their season with the Lady Aggies Alumni Challenge on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Spare Time Lanes at noon. The current A&T team will face off against former members of the program, including some of the ladies who helped the Aggies win MEAC titles during the late 90's and early 2000's, in the exhibition match.
"It's a nice way of passing on the tradition that was set forth by alumni to the new underclassmen," Williams said of the Alumni Challenge. "It's been asked for by the team for the last couple of years, so it's something that we're trying to put together. Hopefully it'll be a success to move forward."
The Challenge will pit the former and current A&T bowlers in individual games and in Bakers competition. The alumni will draw a number out of a hat to determine what lane they will be on. The competitors will then bowl three games. The current roster, after every game, will move to another lane just so they get the opportunity to talk and mingle with the former Aggie bowlers.
"Then, we're going to do a best 4-of-7 bakers match, where the alumni will be allowed to set their own roster and then they'll just face the current underclassmen. The best 4-out-of-7 will determine the winner of the actual tournament."
The Aggies first tournament of the regular season will be from Oct. 19-21 at the Tulane Collegiate Bowling Invitational, where they will face six of the Top 20 schools ranked by the National Tenpin Coaches Association Preseason poll.