The Dominican Republic national bowling team is calling Arlington, Texas home this week as they train at the International Training and Research Center to prepare for next month’s Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico.
Team USA head coach Rod Ross and assistant coach Kim Terrell-Kearney are guiding the team through a broad range of instruction that includes everything from team building to lane play, communication to axis tilt, and much more.
“Every team we work with brings different needs to the ITRC,” Ross explains. “With this team, a primary focus has been on the physics of the sport. We’ve been talking a lot about ball motion, lane play and how to find their axis tilt and axis rotation — knowledge that will help them adjust faster in competition.”
Dominican team head coach Craig Woodhouse is especially grateful for the opportunity to learn from technology that is not yet available to the team back home.
“Where we come from, and where we train, we can’t get any of the information that is available here,” Woodhouse says of the ITRC. “A lot of what we’ve learned here confirms things that I as a coach suspected; but now we have confirmation of it. That’s what the technology here provides for us and it’s been really beneficial.”
Dominican team member Aida Sanchez sees her visit at the ITRC as an opportunity to make the bowling team at Wichita State, where she currently attends classes.
“I’ve tried out for the team and I’ve been on the developmental Junior Varsity team for two years in a row,” Sanchez explains. “I’m hoping this experience will help me make the selected team this year.”
Sanchez is just one of several Dominican team members with ties to collegiate bowling in the United States. Fidel Marchena will soon join the Pikeville College bowling team on scholarship, while Maria Paula Vilas competes as a member of the bowling team at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
The team also includes Dominican Athlete of the Year and former PBA Women’s Series competitor Aumi Guerra as well as several Pan American Bowling Confederation medal winners.
“A couple of other team members competed on the Weber International team before coming back home to the Dominican Republic,” Woodhouse adds. “The team has a lot of momentum going right now. We’re recognized by the Olympic Committee and there is talk of building our own Olympic training center in Santo Domingo.”
But one goal ranks above all others for Woodhouse and his team as they fine tune their games at the ITRC this week: Win in Puerto Rico.
“Right now we’re preparing for the Central American games. It’s a big event for us, and the government is funding it so it’s pretty important,” Woodhouse explains of his team’s upcoming participation in the 21st Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, a multi-sport event that begins July 17.
Part of the team’s preparation for that event has included practice on the two World Tenpin Bowling Association lane patterns they will encounter there: the Stockholm pattern, which is the second-shortest of the WTBA patterns at just 34 feet, and the much longer London pattern, which has 44 feet of oil.
“This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us,” Dominican team member Manuel Fernandez says of his experience this week. “The technology here tells us things that we can’t really see on the lanes, and Rod and Kim have helped us with a couple of drills that we’d never done before. It’s all new for us.”
The team also looks forward to mixing a bit of pleasure in with the business behind their trip to the ITRC, as they plan to attend a game at the nearby Ballpark at Arlington where the hometown Texas Rangers will take on the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates. The team hopes to meet Dominican stars in particular, such as Vladimir Guerrero, Neftali Feliz and Frank Francisco.
“This week has been great for us in terms of team bonding,” Sanchez says. “We really needed that.”