MEAC / Spartan Women

Norfolk State bowling coach emphasizes positive mindset

Aundray Darden embarks on his 15th season in 2020-21 working with the women’s bowling program at Norfolk State University. He spent 14 years as an assistant coach with NSU from 2005-19, where he was instrumental in the development of the Spartan bowlers and the elevation of the program. Photo and caption courtesy of NSUSpartans.com.

by Kingsley Hunter 

Aundray Darden, Associate Head Coach of the Norfolk State bowling team, gave a little insight on his career and how he helps the Lady Spartans become a successful team. He helped lead the Spartans to four consecutive MEAC Southern Division titles in 2011-14. Coach Darden prides himself on affirmations and helping his athletes be the best they can on and off the bowling alley. He described a pyramid that all his players must follow, which displays the words “Commitment,” “Motivation,Sacrifice, and “T.E.A.M.  

“Every team from 2007 till today, they will all have this commonality, these four words that we say and follow,” Darden explained.  

Coach then goes on to discuss legendary college basketball coach John Wooden, a man who won ten national titles as the head coach of the UCLA Bruins and gives credit to where the pyramid idea came from.   

“He has a book called Wooden on leadership. He has a pyramid like this and it’s much more complex.” 

Coach Darden got his inspiration from one of the most successful coaches out of any sport in John Wooden and hopes this affirmation technique will do wonders for his Lady Spartans 

“Starting from the first day of practice (it’s) commitment, being committed to being here every day as an individual. And how we get to commitment is hard work and preparation. Another one is motivation; you must be motivated. I tell them to have three goals and one of them is academics. Write them down and give them to me and we will look at them at the end of the season. Because all goals should have a timeline,” Darden said 

Darden conveys the importance of motivation and commitment to his players and holds them accountable not only just in the bowling alley but also in the classroom. He continues to discuss his affirmation pyramid and why working as a team and the importance of sacrifice are all too important in the world of sports.  

Now once you are motivated, what are you willing to do? You have gone home and you are ready to get it, but what are you willing to do to get it? How far are you willing to go? Where is your limit? And I always say to challenge your limits and never limit your challenges and that comes in sacrifice, self-sacrifice, and the sacrifice of putting the team first,” Darden said.  

Darden hammers the notion that the team comes before the individual, and that sacrificing leads to loyalty and it makes the team stronger. Darden elaborates on how bowling can be as popular as other sports such as football and basketball.  

“I think education, just putting bowling out there and teaching them a higher level of bowling so that they know there is another level than just the basics, Darden said.

Coach Darden cites American Bowler Pete Weber as his favorite bowler to watch and admire. He also uses his style of play as a blueprint to be successful for his team. Weber has won thirty-seven titles on the PBA Tour and has won bowling’s U.S Open five times, which is a record.  

“I’m an old school dude, so you know Pete Weber is the dude! He is just legendary and his confidence and machoism, and his ability to back it up. When the game was changing, when new bowlers were bowling with two hands and really hooking the ball, Pete just stuck to the fundamentals and that is what I try to teach and preach to my players, said Darden. 

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