“Everyone in Husker land needed a win, something to celebrate, even if it’s just bowling,” Klempa said. “It’s not football, it’s not basketball or baseball, but at least it was something and people felt good about it.”
The next day, they got off the bus, trophy in hand, and walked to the third baseline at a Husker home baseball game. The chancellor took them to lunch. President Ted Carter hosted a dinner. But Illinois sophomore bowler Kayla Verstraete said after those weeks passed, the focus had shifted.
“It was like, ‘Okay, now Husker football again,'” she said. “So it was kind of like, we had our three weeks of fame, and then everything stopped.”
It is a lack of recognition that confuses some members of the championship team. Last weekend, junior bowler Kendyl Hofmeister, who is from Michigan, was at work at the bowling alley and saw two men along with the other trophies gazing at the major 2021 NCAA trophy on a glass shelf.
“And I recently heard a conversation from some older gentlemen who said that he didn’t know that the bowling team had won a national championship. And I was quite shocked,” she said. “I’m like, ‘How don’t they know?’ “I mean, they’ve got all this Husker gear on. They’ve got a bumper sticker on their car with the name #1 Nebraska fan, and they still don’t know the bowling team won.”
Bowlers Verstraete and Hofmeister wished the team got more attention. But Hawaii junior bowler Gwen Maeha has a practical explanation for the lack of recognition.
“Would it be nice to get it? Yes, it would be,” she said. “But we also have to understand that when it comes down to it, we’re not bringing revenue to the athletics department. So it’s tough.”
In comparison, Husker football brought in $31,442,119 in revenue last year. Despite the lack of publicity, Maeha appreciates the support of the fans.
“It’s amazing to know that the Husker fan support system here is so great,” she said. “And it’s just so good to have people for our sport, especially when we’re not that big. So I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The team hopes that Nebraskans can attend their only home tournament at the Hollywood Bowl in Lincoln on the last weekend of February. The Big Ten Network will broadcast the match live for the first time.
Editor’s Note: Credits to the NCAA and ESPN for the audio of the Huskers winning the National Championship in audio story.