Nebraska Bowling Is All About Family

April 12, 2019, 6:45 a.m. ·

Bill Straugh (right) with assistant coach Paul Klempa. (Photo courtesy of Nebraska Athletics)

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One Nebraska family has spent their lives around the sport of bowling. This week, they'll play a part in the Huskers' hopes for a national championship.

It's two o'clock in the afternoon and the University of Nebraska bowling family has gathered at the bowling center in the East Campus Union.

This family includes bowlers from far and wide -- Michigan, Illinois, Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica and Colombia. And one single bowler from Nebraska. ..

The patriarch of this family is Bill Straub. He's been the coach of this team, officially sanctioned in the athletic department for about a quarter of a century. He's been coaching Nebraska bowling - men and women, club and NCAA - for more than 30 years.

He jokes he couldn't spell "coach" when he started, so he studied John Wooden and Bobby Knight and stresses fundamentals.

And his style?

"I try to operate the way Harry Truman supposedly did," Straub said. "Listen to the advisors, all the people that are the experts and then the buck stops here. That's the way I try to run this. I'm a big fan of Harry Truman's."

Nebraska Bowling coach Bill Straub. (Photo courtesy of Nebraska Athletics)

And he's a big fan of the office manager: Coach Straub's wife Kim. She is a four-time All-American bowler at Nebraska and her senior year she was the bowler of the year

"I have a lot of opinions that, I try not to have too many when I shouldn't," Kim Straub said. "Like at home at night, we discuss things. So I try to be supportive and not be too opinionated, but I was raised by a mother that offered her opinion so I do have that."

That lone Nebraskan on the roster is their daughter. 21-year-old senior Meghan Straub is an All-American and a candidate for national bowler of the year.

"I'm probably a little unique here, but I'm really close with my parents and this is how it's been for me my whole life," Meghan Straub said. "My dad has been my coach and my mom has been here, so it's not any different."

This week the Straub's are in Wickliffe, Ohio for the NCAA Championships.

This is the most successful team in the history of women's college bowling. Five times they have been the champions and they have been finalists nine times in 15 years.

Bill Straub almost didn't make it to title number five.

"I was sitting right here in this office, and his office is just right outside of here," said assistant coach Paul Klempa, who has been with Straub for 23 years. "It was towards the end of the day and he yelled out for me."

"I knew there was something wrong that I had never experienced before," Straub said. "I called Paul."

"And I jumped up because I could tell the way he yelled for me hat it was unlike anything I had ever heard him do," Klempa said. "So I jumped up and I saw him in his chair. It looked like he was having a seizure. And I didn't know what was going on.

"Moments later he came to and asked me what I was doing because he saw me dialing 9-1-1," Klempa continued. "And I said 'Just don't move. Stay right where you are because something happened."

Husker Bowling senior Meghan Straub. (Photo courtesy of Nebraska Athletics)

"They brought the priest in to give me last rights twice during the nine-hour surgery," Straub said. "It was touch-and-go for sure."

That was five years ago. Straub had survived an aortic dissection.

"It was very, very serious," Kim Straub said. "It happened, obviously, unexpectedly, so things had to work out just like they did for him to be here. The right surgeon, the right ambulance crew, you know, everything that worked in his favor. It was miraculous"

Straub is now 67-years-old. Meghan is the only child of Bill and Kim. She's been hanging around these bowling lanes since she was old enough to walk.

"I literally have watched Meghan grow up," Klempa said. "From the time she was born, they brought her in here on a regular basis and she grew up through school and high school and now into college and she's an All-American here. It's been extraordinary to see her develop the way she has."

Klempa like the Straubs will watch Meghan compete this week as a Husker for the very last time.

"I've been around a lot of parents that put a lot of pressure on the senior year idea and I don't look at it that way," Kim Straub said. "I just look at it as the end and hopefully the start of something new. I try not to make it seem like a real huge, that puts a lot of pressure on it. I'm just going to try and enjoy it. But I suppose I'll probably tear up a little bit."

"There's enough stuff going on. I try to keep business here and home at home," Bill Straub said. "We're blessed that she's here. When she's gone, we're going to be missing her."

"We've had a lot of stuff going on this year, so the big picture of making it to nationals and doing well at nationals is taking over my thoughts right now," Meghan Straub said. "I haven't had a lot of time to think about this being my senior year."

A national championship would be Meghan's first and the Huskers sixth in 16 years.