McKendree University women’s bowling coach Shannon O’Keefe recently was honored as the 2015-16 National Tenpin Coaches Association (NTCA) NCAA Division II/III National Coach of the Year. O’Keefe received the award recently at a banquet held prior to the start of the 2016 NCAA National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Championship in North Brunswick, N.J.
O’Keefe, who is in her second season as the Bearcats’ head coach, guided McKendree to its first-ever appearance at the NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship. The Bearcats earned top-10 rankings in the final ratings of both polls conducted by the NTCA. Entering the national tournament, McKendree was rated third in the NTCA Division II/III poll and sixth in the NTCA All-Division rankings.
“It’s very humbling and incredibly awesome to be recognized by my coaching peers,” said O’Keefe after receiving her Coach of the Year award. “When they announced the winner all I could do was look over at my team and think about them. They are the real reason for this award.”
In 2015-16, McKendree entered eight NCAA in-season tournaments. The Bearcats won four of those events and finished as the runner-up in another. McKendree began its impressive run by winning the Crusader Classic hosted by Valparaiso University in November. Then in January, the Bearcats captured top tournament honors on consecutive weekends. They win the Mid-Winter Invitational at Arkansas State University and followed a week later by taking first place at Kutztown University’s KU Invitational.
In late March, McKendree earned its fourth in-season tournament crown by sweeping through the field to win the University of Central Missouri Invitational. The Bearcats collected their second-place finish at the Music City Classic hosted by Vanderbilt University, which also took place in March.
“At the beginning of the year I had some hopes and some goals in mind for our team,” said O’Keefe. “I knew what they were truly capable of if they believed in what they were doing. They came in during the pre-season and were truly open-minded and willing to work hard, listen and grow as a team. A lot of them stepped out of their comfort zones and really responded wonderfully. This award should really say McKendree women’s bowling on it because they are the ones who allow me to do what I do. I’m incredibly honored to be their coach.”
When she is not coaching the McKendree women’s bowling program, O’Keefe is a member of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA). In January, she earned a spot on bowling’s Team USA for the 12th consecutive year.