CEDAR RAPIDS — Russ Camacho’s love of bowling was inspired by his father.
“I used to go to the bowling alley with my dad when I was younger,” said Camacho, who has been coaching bowling at Cedar Rapids Xavier for 18 years. “I enjoyed watching him and they had a really cool fish tank.”
Camacho has come a long way since those “fish tank” days. He coaches the boys’ and girls’ teams at Xavier and has led the program for all but one year.
“I continue to coach because it is so rewarding to see athletes that could barely get the ball to make it to the pins when they started to become contributing members of varsity by the time they graduate,” he said.
He started coaching in 2001 when a group of students were interested in starting a program at Xavier.
“My favorite part about coaching bowling is getting to work with a wide variety of athletes compared to coaching football and track,” Camacho said. “It is so rewarding to see the growth in an individual’s game through the course of their career.”
He believes the girls’ and boys’ teams are improving each practice.
“I believe that we have the players we need to have both teams return to the state meet again this year,” Camacho said. “If they can realize their potential, we have a legitimate chance to take home a state trophy this year.”
Camacho continues to coach bowling because of the athletes.
“Camacho cares about each individual on the team,” junior Kaitlyn Buenzow said. “He sits down and helps everyone, but for us to succeed, we need to listen to him and improve. All he ever asks is that we take his suggestions on how to be better and execute them.”
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Camacho’s goals for the season are clear — taking home a state trophy. The boys’ team, led by defending state champ Dale Weaver, is 10-2. The girls are 4-10. The Saints host Waterloo West on Friday at May City Bowl.
“I think we have great team chemistry,” Camacho said. “Most of the varsity team returned from last season, which can go a long way to building the chemistry and success of a program.”