“McKendree is the best choice for my bowling and academic career to progress.”

We caught-up with Tamworth Youth Bowler Issy Allen as she begins planning for a bright future with McKendree University Bowling.

SW: Many congratulations, Issy!  McKendree University Bowling is recognised as being a progressive base for Collegiate bowling in the States – how does it feel to know that in a few months time you’ll be a McKendree Bearcat, especially with the Lady Bearcat’s just winning the Columbia 300 Saints Invitational?

IA: Thank you!  I am feeling really excited, and know McKendree is the best choice for my bowling and academic career to progress.  I’ve been following McKendree for a long time and they are a great team.  I can’t wait to begin my journey with them, and I am so grateful for this opportunity – all the hard work I’ve put into my sport has really paid off!

SW: University bowling across the pond is something that interests a number of our up-and-coming international youth bowlers.  You add to a list of other English girls who travelled to bowl and study, including of course Webber’s Verity Crawley and Husker’s Beth Hedley.  How did you decide that you wanted to go to the States, and why McKendree?

IA: I was approached by a few universities during the World Youth Championships in Detroit in 2018, and after doing my research I decided I wanted to go to America to study and progress my bowling career.  It has been a lengthy process which has included taking various tests, such as the SAT (Standardised American Test).

Since receiving my results, I have been speaking at length with Shannon and Bryan O’Keefe, leaving me in no doubt that McKendree was the University for me, both for my bowling and academically.  I haven’t yet had to choose the subject I am going to study, but in the coming months I will make my final decision.

SW: You are visiting McKendree soon – it’s going to be a lot to take-in for sure – you must be counting-down the days?

IA: Yes!  I’m going to visit McKendree in February, and I will be starting there at the end of August.  I know they have a very intense bowling and training program and I am so excited for that!  It will be so different academically to here at home, so I am really looking forward to it!!

SW: I appreciate you taking the time to tell us more about it – and we all look forward to catching-up with you later in the year, and in following your progress.  We wish you the very best in this exciting new journey!

IA: Thank you, Stuart!!


Shannon O’Keefe, Head Women’s Bowling Coach for the Lady Bearcats has no fewer than 16 appearances for Team USA, and has been a champion on the PWBA Tour 13 times, winning the PWBA Player of the Year twice.  Topping this list perhaps are her seven World Championships!

“We are thrilled that Issy has joined our little Bearcat family here at McKendree University. Her talent and international experience will be a great addition to our team,  and in our quest to win more National Championships.”


Issy’s father Steve wanted to recognise everyone who has been a part of her bowling past and present, on behalf of the Allen family:

“As a family we are extremely proud of Isabel’s achievements and this opportunity for her to join McKendree University for the next 4 years to study and bowl on the Collegiate tour.

We have so many people to thank for this privileged opportunity – the bowling Coaches at McKendree University Shannon and Brian O’Keefe who have been instrumental in this whole process. Guiding us through the steps we had to complete to the point of Isabel signing the Letter of Intent.  Jon Zadel – Isabel’s coach for 7 years.  Alex Hamilton for his expertise and guidance on ball selection and ball drilling.  Striking Shirts and EBI for their sponsorship support.  All the Team England coaches who have guided and helped Isabel at Major Championships to achieve the success she has had.  The NAYBC and BTBA for providing tour schedules to enable Isabel to compete.  The YBC’s that Isabel has been part of since the age of 3. Sporting Club Tamworth and Nuneaton Vipers.  You have all had a part at some point to play in helping Isabel achieve her dream of studying and bowling in the USA.

We are so grateful to you all. Thank you.”

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