ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) The Rockford Travelers understand what makes a good team. They may not have known that a year ago, but the eight local bowlers eventually learned the hard way.
"It was rough, it was really rough," said Andrew Pierce.
The claps of encouragement were not always there for the Travelers. It took them hitting rock bottom to figure out one fundamental aspect of the game.
"Good teams become great ones if the team members decide to surrender from me to we and that was a decision that we made," said Travelers President Kirk Bickham.
The change in philosophy was all the travelers needed.
"We just grew together," Pierce said. "We're more humble, we're more positive of one another and the outcome speaks for itself."
The outcome Pierce speaks of is a division championship, the first in a decade.
But the eight Rockford bowlers still have one more task in front of them and that is a national championship.
"We've been a strong team over the years, but we just came into disarray," said Vance King. "We're bringing it back."
The team heads to Buffalo in a few weeks to go after its first title in almost 20 years.
They say they want to bury all of the trash-talk they have heard from the rest of the National Travelers Bowling League.
"When they speak about bowling, Rockford is not even spoke about," said Luther Crumbley. "That was a hard pill to swallow so after I heard that, I used this year as a rallying cry to bring us back together."
"We're not expected to compete with the giants," said Jerome Woodfork. "They've got some great bowlers out that way so for us to win, that would really be an accomplishment."
Unlike in other leagues, the winners get no prize money, but there is only one thing that the Travelers will be happy to take.
"There's nothing to get back but just pride and you just have to have love for the game of bowling," said Pierce. "It's the prestige and bragging rights."