Jan. 29, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - There was little fanfare. While they briefly stopped play to acknowledge the achievement with a team picture and some words of congratulations, the moment soon passed as the games resumed.
To the relief of head coach and program architect Bobby Henderson, the Fayetteville State Lady Broncos recorded their 600th victory on Sunday. Then they went out and did what they always do.
Win some more.
Fayetteville State (25-1), the defending CIAA Bowling Champion and the first CIAA program to reach 600 wins, finished the three-day Southern Division meet in much the same way it has done in so many other divisional competitions.
Clear and utter domination.
The Lady Broncos, who have won 10 CIAA division titles in 11 years and two league championships in the last four seasons, completed the meet at their home B&B Bowling Lanes with a perfect 15-0 mark. Needing 12 wins coming into the weekend to hit 600, Fayetteville State reached that lofty perch with a dominant win over Johnson C. Smith during Sunday's second Baker match.
"I can rest now," said a breathless Henderson, who built the program from scratch in 2001. "I can sleep now, because I didn't sleep at all last night."
After that, it was on to wins 601, 602 and 603.
Not that there wasn't some minor trepidation. The Lady Broncos, who romped through play with a 10-0 mark the first two days, only managed to slip past Winston-Salem State in the first Baker match on Sunday, clipping the Lady Rams by a mere eight pins.
With No. 599 out of the way and Johnson C. Smith on deck - the Lady Broncos had little trouble beating the Lady Golden Bulls twice in the first two days - Fayetteville State set its sights on 600. Henderson, true to form, allowed all seven of his bowlers to compete in the historic win, subbing reserves in and out of the four-bowler lineup.
"It's all about these girls, and the girls who came before them" Henderson said. "This is about them, and so every one of them had a chance to bowl. They all got an opprtunity to roll."
Former Broncos bowlers appreciate Henderson's sentiment and the accomplishment the program made on Sunday, but placed most of the credit on their beloved coach.
"Coach Henderson deserves all the accolades he can get," said two-time CIAA Player of the Year Akira Turner. "I know he likes to say an honor like this is one shared by the team, that it's for the girls, but he is the reason. I am so happy for him."
Jessica Florit Shumate, who was an All-CIAA bowler at Fayetteville State and served as a grad assistant under Henderson, echoed her former teammate's thoughts.
"That is always Coach," said Shumate. "He is modest and kind and always puts the team before him. But he is the driving force behind the team. As modest as he is, he is truly why this program has always been so great and why all the girls always love and care for him.
"Coach will never admit to how great he is and how he has directed the team to greatness. As much as it is the girls, it just as much him. He builds and creates the teams. Coach does more than inspire us in bowling, he inspires us in life. The word `unselfish' describes Coach to a `T.' That is who he is and always will be."
With No. 600 out of the way, Henderson is happy to shift the focus to the remaining matches this season, and to the CIAA Tournament, which looms in late March.
"We're the defending champions, but we want another ring," he said. "And this team is just as good as the one from last year."