Central College is adding new club sports for the 2019-20 school year, including men’s volleyball and women’s bowling with the possibility of both soon becoming varsity sports. Men’s volleyball and NCAA women’s bowling continue to be emerging intercollegiate sports, the result of increased participation at the high school level.
Club sports are competitive, typically require tryouts to join and games/matches are played against other schools. They may be sponsored by the college but not regulated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“We’re excited to add these club sports for our student-athletes to compete in,” said Eric Van Kley, Central’s director of athletics. “Participation continues to grow across the country in men’s volleyball and women’s bowling. We feel this the perfect time to look at these as potential varsity sports.”
During the 2017-18 school year, more than 60,000 boys across the country participated in sanctioned varsity boys volleyball programs. In fact, 16 states offer it as a sanctioned sport.
Girls bowling at the high school level has more than 1,300 participants, as of the 2017-18 school year. Girls bowling is sanctioned in 20 states, including Iowa.
There are currently nine colleges in Iowa with a varsity men’s volleyball program, including eight members of the NAIA. Des Moines hosted the inaugural NAIA men’s national championships in 2019 and will do so again in 2020. Grand View was a semifinalist.
Loras College, like Central an NCAA Division III and American Rivers Conference member, started its program in 2015.
Women’s bowling among NCAA institutions grew to 80 programs in 2017-18. Five NAIA member colleges in Iowa have women’s bowling teams, as of 2018-19.