By Chris Chaney
Glen Este High School bowler Leslie Campbell inked her National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and athletic career at Wright State University on Friday, Nov. 15 during a special ceremony put on by the athletic department.
“I’ve practiced with the girls before and I basically felt at home when I was up at practice,” Campbell said of her decision to sign with the Raiders. “This year, they’re third in the nation, right behind Wichita State, and it’s only an hour away, which is good because I wanted to stay close to home.”
Campbell will bring a lot of experience to the team and head coach Jeff Fleck expects her to have an immediate impact next season.
“My assistant coach saw her bowling up at a doubles tournament in Dayton (during her sophomore year) and we’ve been talking to her since,” Fleck said. “She’s been up to practice with the girls and she’s fit right in. We’ve been thrilled to death.
“We only bring in three or four girls a year. We lose a few off the top and build the bottom; Leslie, a girl from Beavercreek and couple more are coming in to take over the reigns, so to speak. (Campbell) will compete immediately for a spot on the top-eight varsity, absolutely.”
Campbell is coming off of a junior year that saw her lead the Lady Trojans to a 17-1 record and an Eastern Cincinnati Conference championship. Campbell was also named the ECC Athlete of the Year and led the league in average by nearly 30 pins per game.
While expectations are high for Campbell’s senior year, she expects her transition to the next level to be a smooth one.
“The coaches are really nice,” Campbell said. “(Fleck) is funny like Demarko, (assistant coach) Rob (Dever) is smart like (Glen Este assistant coach) Tony (Kellerman). It’s kind of like repeating at Glen Este.”
With the pressure of recruitment off her back, Glen Este head coach Kathy Demarko expects Campbell’s senior season to be a special one.
“I saw her bowl one time, I saw her throw one ball and I thought, ‘that’s awesome. She throws it better than any man I’ve ever seen’ and she was seven,” a proud and emotional Demarko said. “This year, by far, has been her best year in terms of leadership. Everything about her screams college, screams maybe going professional.
“Between Leslie and Blake (Huber) and Haley (Vogelgesang), this year is going to be the best because they are like my children; they’re literally like watching my blood. This year will be the best, but it’ll also be the hardest.
“My plans are to win one match at a time, as always. Winning state is always the goal, but to get there one match at a time. With the leadership of (Campbell) and (Vogelgesang) on the girls’ side and (Huber) and Ryan (Stroup) on the boys’ side, we should win the ECC with no problems and I believe we have the strongest teams on this side of town.”
Campbell echoed her coach’s expectations and plans to take the next step individually as well.
“The team should be good,” Campbell said. “We got a few new freshmen on the team that are good and should help. We should do what we did last year and I want to be able to do what I did last year, expect I want to get to state, since I haven’t been.”
If Campbell is able to duplicate her junior season, in which she bowled a perfect game in a match against Walnut Hills on Jan. 9, the final year in purple and black should be a special one.
Campbell and the Trojans began their season on Tuesday, Nov. 19 in a match against Amelia.