The life of Newman bowler Dakota Lennen

Nov 30, 2022
Dakota Lennen, photo courtesy of Richard Rico
Newman University bowler Dakota Lennen (photo courtesy of Richard Rico)

“Slow your roll” is an expression many college athletes may hear as they take on the challenge of managing classwork, practice time, tournaments and outside work. But for women’s bowler Dakota Lennen, nothing will slow her down.

“I know that things in life don’t always go our way, but we have to keep going even when things are hard,” Lennen said.

Lennen started bowling as a 3-year-old. Her parents signed her up for the youth league at Seneca Bowl in Wichita, where she continued bowling until age 18. 

Dakota Lennen, sophomore bowler at Newman University
Dakota Lennen, sophomore bowler at Newman University

“When I started to work harder, I asked my former coach Mark Johanson (of Central Christian Academy) to be my coach,” she said. “He coached me up until college. I am very grateful to have Mark as my coach; he was the person that helped me the most to get to where I am today.”

After her first year at Newman, Lennen had what Senior Associate Director of Admissions Georgia Drewes called “a stellar fourth round” of qualifying at the 2022 Junior Gold Championships — a national youth tournament that also serves as a qualifier for Junior Team USA. The Newman University sophomore bowled a 298 game and 803 series at the championships in July.

When asked what her qualifying meant after bowling “the round of her life,” Lennen gave a humble response.

“I feel that if am a qualifier for Junior Team USA, then it must be my time and I have to give it everything I have,” she said. “Great opportunities like this don’t happen often and I want to leave a tournament feeling accomplished because I gave it everything I have. Life is too short to live with regret.”

Life at Newman University

A typical week for Lennen consists of attending class in the morning, followed by bowling practice at Northrock Lanes for two hours and, finally, working at her off-campus job. Being a college bowler goes beyond practice and performance time, however.

“I practice outside of the bowling alley by focusing on my mental game,” Lennen said. “I use what I learn from bowling and apply it to my everyday life.”

Her college bowling goals are to make memories and form long-lasting friendships with the “most amazing team she’s ever had.”

Lennen (far right) and teammates on the women's bowling team
Lennen (far right) and teammates on the women’s bowling team

So far, she’s done just that.

“What I love most about being on the Newman bowling team is being pushed to see my new limits,” Lennen said. “It’s rewarding having my team behind me, giving me their support, cheering when I strike for the team, laughing with me and picking me back up when I’m having a hard time.”

Lennen works hard in the classroom as well. Her ultimate goal, inspired by a teacher she had at Haysville West Middle School, is to one day become a teacher herself. 

“Mrs. Alexander always had a positive attitude — even when my class was being rambunctious most of the time — but she still loved her job. I remember that she would always check up on me and give me some advice. Her class was the class that I always looked forward to.”

She continued, “I know life is hard, but I want children to know that there will always be a person willing to help, and I want to be one of those people. I love seeing smiles on others’ faces and try to spread those smiles everywhere I go.”

2022 Newman women's bowling team (Courtesy photo Richard Rico)
2022 Newman women’s bowling team (Courtesy photo Richard Rico)

Lennen’s advice can be applied to bowling, college life and beyond. 

“Always keep an open mind, you may not know why something is going the way it is right now but you will understand later on. Learn as much as you can. Keep giving yourself goals to accomplish and have as much fun as you can.”

The women’s bowling team recently finished its fall season 24-14 and will return from break Jan. 7, when they will bowl in the Mount Classic in Las Vegas to start the spring season.

In the meantime, Lennen said, “I want to keep learning more about myself and pushing myself to new limits.”

Follow along with Newman bowling adventures

Watch live videos, find final stats and get the latest team news from the women and men’s bowling teams.