Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Straub Follows Family Footsteps

By Brian Rosenthal

Nebraska senior Meghan Straub, the daughter of women’s bowling coach Bill Straub and former Husker All-American Kim Straub, is a Lincoln native and graduate of Lincoln Pius X High School. She earned third team All-American honors as a junior and is a key member of the Huskers’ rotation this season, as Nebraska hosts the 10-team Big Red Invitational at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, this Friday through Sunday. Straub visited with Brian Rosenthal of Huskers.com about her bowling career and future.

BR: Given your lineage, do you feel were destined to bowl?

Meghan: “I know growing up I was always around the team and around parents who were around the team, so I would always get asked if I planned to bowl in college and play for my dad. I always said no, because I always enjoyed volleyball. That was the sport that I had chosen. I had played that all through high school and I ended up getting injured, and that was recruiting time for volleyball. So I switched my focus to bowling. My dad asked me if would be interested in joining the team, and I said yes. Thankfully, I had spent the past 18 years bowling enough that I was good enough. Right when I changed my focus solely to bowling is when I really improved. I really came to enjoy it. So I was destined to be in a bowling alley and live in a bowling alley. I didn’t always feel like I was destined to be a college bowler, but when things happened the way they did, that’s what ended up happening, and I’m really glad it ended up this way.”

BR: What’s your earliest memory of bowling?

Meghan: “I don’t remember not bowling. But probably around 2 or so, being on the lanes at East Campus, and my parents would help me roll the ball down the lane. It just progressed after that. I got my first bowling ball, and it was 6 pounds, and then I probably got a new ball every year. I was around the team all the time, and they acted like my big sisters. They were just a big family I was around growing up.”

BR: Do you get an extra boost from a home crowd at a bowling meet?
Meghan: “Yeah, because most tournaments we go to, there’s a few parents who show up in support of our team, and that’s about it. Sometimes we have a couple of super fans who show up who travel around with us. But this is really the only time of the year – here, and nationals – so it’s nice to see. They get loud when we strike or when the match gets close. People are interested and happy to be there. It’s something we don’t experience throughout the year, and it’s really enjoyable when we have more than 100 people to watch us bowl.”

BR: What’s a certain nuance or strategy in bowling that the average person may not know about or understand?

Meghan: “Repeating shots is very important. Being able to slide where you want to on the approach and hit where you want to for your mark on the lane is essential. I think a lot of people don’t understand how much technique is required and how much attention to detail and focus on each individual shot. It’s difficult, because all lanes are different, all bowling centers are different, so we have to be really on top of our game to be understanding what’s happening with the lane and how our balls are reacting. The more good shots we make, the quicker we’ll figure out a lane condition or a lane pattern, and we’ll be able to score better. We just need to be very disciplined and focused on our own game.”

BR: How much of a role does strength and conditioning play into bowling?

Meghan: “The general workouts we do are to just try to keep us in shape – good flexibility and overall core strength. But it’s really important the endurance side of it, because we have really long days at a lot of tournaments. If we’re not conditioning enough to be able to endure 10-hour days, that becomes difficult, because by the last couple of matches, we’re starting to drag because we don’t have a high enough endurance. But thankfully we’ve had a good year conditioning-wise, so that hasn’t been an issue with us throughout the semester or throughout the year.”

BR: What advantage does Nebraska have over other bowling programs?

Meghan: “We have a very good athletic department, obviously, but we have benefits here that a lot of other universities don’t have. Also, we’re treated just like any other sport, and that’s different than other universities. We get the same amount of equipment, we get the same meals at the training table, we get to use the facilities like any other sports team. But also, East Campus has a really nice 6-lane center that not a lot of other teams in the country have. Just with those amenities, that’s already something we’re blessed to have. We really appreciate being treated as well as we are.”

BR: What’s one sport you’ve never played but you would be interested in trying?

Meghan: “I’ve always enjoyed tennis. Once or twice I’ve played it, but I don’t think you could really qualify it as playing tennis. I really enjoy watching professional tennis. Roger Federer is one of my favorite athletes, and he’s always really impressed me. So just watching him and Nadal and Serena has just really got me to enjoy the sport of tennis. It’s something that maybe after my bowling career is finished, it might be something that I pick up.”

BR: What’s your most embarrassing moment in bowling?

Meghan: “I was actually thinking about this because I’ve had a couple of them. I normally don’t mark them down or even think I have a lot of them. But we were getting ready to start practice one tournament a couple of weeks ago, and they always have the lanes turned off right until it’s time for us to begin. So I was up on my approach, just testing the ball to make sure it fit OK, and I was just doing a practice run facing the lane. This has never happened to me before, but for some reason the ball did not stay in my hands. It flew off, and it went down the lane. Everyone’s watching, all these teams are getting ready to practice, all the lanes are off, and Meghan’s ball is going down the lane. They had to get a couple of workers go back there and get it out of the lane. I got a lot of jokes from a lot of coaches. I laughed at it, but I think there were a couple of people on my team who were more embarrassed by it more than I was.”

BR: In fairness then, what’s your most exciting or memorable moment?

Meghan: “Nationals, two years ago, we were in the tiebreaker match with Maryland-Eastern Shore, and … we needed to win this match. We had to have one of our last four people strike out for us to win, and we all looked other, ‘You know what? We’re doing this.’ And we were able to do it. It was really memorable, because that was a turning point for those nationals. We were in the losers’ bracket and shouldn’t have been. Once we won that match, we had to beat Vanderbilt twice to make it to the TV show, and that was one of the best days our team had. We were tested a lot that day and we were able to make it through. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the TV show, but the path of making it there was pretty intense.”

BR: What are your plans after college?

Meghan: “I don’t really know yet. I’m going to stay here an extra year because I have to student teach, so I can’t do that at the same time I have bowling practice. I’m majoring in journalism and also English education, so I need to decide what path I want to take. I’ll probably finish up my year and go to grad school.”

Reach Brian at brosenthal@huskers.com or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.

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