UAB welcomes first intercollegiate bowlers

Cowden, Ferreira and Walker will bowl for Blazers this year

The first three student-athletes in the history of the new UAB bowling program are on campus and ready to compete for the Blazers in their inaugural season.

Jamie Cowden (Palm Harbor, Fla./University of Pikeville), Marissa Ferreira (Lake Worth, Fla./Santaluces HS) and Leah Walker (Dallas, Ga./Hillgrove HS) will form the foundation of the UAB team that begins competition in October.

Cowden comes to UAB after a year at the University of Pikeville in Kentucky, where she maintained a 196 average with a high game of 275 in her one season on Pikeville’s club team.

Cowden is a past winner of the singles and doubles titles at the Florida State Youth Bowling Championships and also helped her Tarpon Springs High School team to a pair of county titles.

“I think Jamie brings so much to the table,” UAB head coach Michelle Crews said. “She is experienced, having bowled at the club level. She has that competitive experience that we definitely need to show the younger girls the ropes.”

Ferreira competed in the Florida state finals four times, three with her Santaluces High School team and once as an individual. She helped Santaluces to its first state championship as a junior in 2009 and finished seventh in the state individually. Her four-game score of 904 in state tournament qualifying that year was the third-highest in state history and included games of 287 and 242.

Ferreira compiled a 187 average over her final two years of high school bowling. She was an all-county selection by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and an all-area selection by the Palm Beach Post.

“Marissa is going to be a spark on our team,” Crews said. “UAB is a place that appealed to her both because of our new team and because of the academics. She wants to bowl more than anything in the world, and I think she’s going to shine here on a whole new level.”

Walker comes to the Blazers from Georgia’s Hillgrove High School, where she graduated with honors. While Georgia does not have high school bowling, Walker was active in the Southern Scratch Junior Bowling Association (SSJBA) and on the Georgia Youth Bowlers Tour (GYBT).

She competed three times for her home state in the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Interstate Bowling All-Stars event between Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. At the 2008 event, Walker was named the girls bowler of the year. She also bowled in the USBC Junior Gold Championships.

“Leah brings a lot of excitement to our team,” Crews said. “She wants to be in the bowling center every day. She really wants to be here, she really wants to get better, and she’s ready to take her bowling to the next level.”

The collegiate bowling season begins in late October and runs through the NCAA Championships in mid-April. The Blazers will compete in eight regular-season events in 2011-12, their first year of intercollegiate competition.