Alvarado celebrating a strike during the MEAC Championships

April 10, 2014

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — For any college student, distance can be a daunting proposition. Taking an 18-year-old and put them in an environment that’s foreign to them, away from the comfort and shelter from family and friends back home is a recipe for feeling uncomfortable.

Then when you make that distance is 2,376 miles and in a completely different country, the recipe goes from uncomfortable to almost unbearable.

Unbearable, that is, if you don’t have a family of fellow bowlers like UMES junior Mariana Alvarado (Leon, Mexico) does. “When I came to my visit, I felt like these girls were really close. Everybody really knew each other. Like a family. So if you’re far away from home, at least you feel like someone cares about you.” said Alvarado in a recent interview.

Alvarado developed her love of bowling from her maternal grandfather, who owned a bowling alley in her hometown. “I’ve been bowling since I was born, basically. I’ve been doing tournaments since I was six years old.” The daughter of a doctor and a psychologist, she followed the footsteps of her sister, Daniela, to the United States to bowl collegiately. She has a younger brother as well, who also bowls and could be the third out of three Alvarado children to bowl collegiately.

Now in her junior year, Mariana has two national championships with the Hawks, a 2012 NCAA championship as a freshman and the 2013 USBC Championship as a sophomore. She and the rest of her fellow Hawk bowlers are currently in Cleveland bowling for their fourth NCAA title and sixth title overall in six years. When asked about her national championship wins, Alvarado said, “I have no words to describe it. When you win a national championship and you’re on TV, it’s like…you worked so hard all year to make the dream come true. And we made it.”



Individually, Alvarado has a bowled a game high 279 in competition at the Hawk Classic in Millsboro, Del. last November and has bowled one 300 game in practice this past season. In addition, Mariana primarily bowls in the anchor position for UMES, who bowls the fifth and tenth frames in Baker games and is the final bowler in individual games. For her, she sees this crucial role with no added pressure. “I think it’s the same, if you’re bowling first, second, third, you have the same responsibility to strike or spare. You have a chance to help your teammates the same way, no matter what position you are in.” Despite the indifference, her efforts have earned her two All-American selections—an honorable mention as a sophomore and a 2nd team selection this past week.

In the world of academics, Mariana is an engineering major here at UMES. Originally specializing in aerospace engineering, she is now studying in the mechanical field. “When I finish, I’m trying to go to grad school. Engineering is a huge major, so I went to go to grad school and study something in mechanical, or robotics, or something.” While she is unsure of her exact job, she is more certain of what type of company she hopes to be employed with. “For my future, I just want to work for an international company between Latin America and the U.S.”

Alvarado has accomplished all her academic and athletic feats despite being in a foreign country and with three different bowling coaches. She was recruited by Sharon Brummell, who brought the university’s bowling team to national prominence, but retired after her freshman year. Kristina Frahm took over, coaching one year and winning the USBC title, before pursuing other career opportunities. Currently, the team is coached by former Pikeville standout Kayla Bandy, whom Mariana praised her determination. “If she wants something, she’s going to get it. And she’s really organized. You know at the start of each month what you are going to do, when you are going to practice. It just makes things simpler as students, and as athletes.”

Additionally, she does still find the distance and the transition from Mexico and the United States difficult. “Its hard to transition from home. I lived 18 years in Mexico, and then I come here, it’s a tough process. Being far from home and my family. My sister lives two hours away, but it’s not the same as being with your mom and dad. Oh, and making friends here is completely different than back home.”

Yet in spite of all of her obstacles, Mariana has set herself up for a promising future, whether that be here in this country or in her home country. But with one year to go in her collegiate career, she has but one goal in mind.

“Basically win national championships, that’s what [the bowling team] wants.”

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