GCA Bowler Makes Indiana History
Alexandra Ross becomes first Hoosier to win two state bowling titles.
Writer / Matt Roberts
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Alexandra Ross is inside Southern Bowling Center in late afternoon on a weekday. The Greenwood teenager is talking about her high school bowling career with a reporter when a friend stops by to chat. After some small talk, the friend says “Oh yeah, how did you do in the state tournament?”
Ross giggles, “I won.”
Most people would feel fortunate to give that answer once. But Alexandra is the only high school bowler in Indiana history that can say that about two different years. As a Greenwood Christian Academy senior, she won the 2017 state title, 198-161, over Elkhart Memorial’s Brooklyn Schutz.
She also won the championship in 2014 — as a freshman.
“I’m proud of both,” Ross says. “But I’m really proud of my senior year because I understand how hard it is to win state now. My freshman year I just thought, ‘Oh, great, I won!’, but I didn’t really understand how difficult it is to make it back.
“I went into the tournament this year with the mentality that I wanted to win,” she adds. “Freshman year, I just wanted to do well.”
In her sophomore and junior years, Ross again had great seasons, but the ultimate prize eluded her.
“I was beyond disappointed,” she recalls. “I didn’t make it out of regionals my sophomore year. And then I didn’t make it out of semi-state my junior year.”
Alexandra’s father, Ryan, coached her high school team and had a front-row seat to both the ups and downs.
“In high school bowling, (each match) is just three games,” he says. “One low game can put you out. Lanes will play differently. You can wind up on a low scoring pair (of lanes) and things don’t go well. Her sophomore year, she had a low game and fought back but missed out by three pins. Her junior year she bowled well, but the lanes just didn’t cooperate. Things have to go your way to keep advancing.”
During high school, Alex practiced four or five times a week, leaving little time for other hobbies. Until sixth grade, she played basketball and soccer, but joined a youth bowling league over the summer and found her athletic calling.
“I liked soccer, but I wasn’t amazing at it,” Ross says. “I still enjoy basketball. If I had to give up bowling for something else, it’d be that. But I’m not going to do that,” she says smiling.
Alexandra’s father started the GCA bowling program when she was in middle school and has continued to coach his daughter, though he got some help when he found her abilities eclipsing his expertise.
“She has a private coach, and I film her and send him video, and he sends comments back,” Ryan says. “She’s beyond what I can help her with. Throughout the tournament, she made all of her own decisions as far as moves and ball choices. She’d run it by me, but she knows her game. She knows bowling and ball reaction.
“I knew that with her work ethic and determination, she’d be successful,” he adds.
Alexandra’s persistence and focus was rewarded with a scholarship to McKendree University, a small NCAA school in southwestern Illinois. She estimates that she received offers from more than 20 schools.
“I really thought I wanted to bowl at Vanderbilt,” Ross says. “They have a pretty good women’s team. But once I visited McKendree, I knew I wanted to go there. I liked Vanderbilt, but it’s really big compared to Greenwood Christian (enrollment of approximately 200). McKendree is small and homey and just felt comfortable.”
Alexandra’s high school success is now in her rearview mirror, but she’s moving on to new challenges. Maybe someday she’ll be able to give that same answer about the NCAA tournament: