SEC Storied: Vanderbilt Bowling 2007

The story of Vandy's first national championship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The next documentary in the SEC Storied series is Vandy Rolls, the story of Vanderbilt University’s path to the 2007 NCAA Championship in women’s bowling, the school’s first national title in any sport.

The 30-minute film debuts at 8 p.m. CT on April 12 on SEC Network.

For the 2004-05 season, the Vanderbilt women’s bowling team was formed with existing students – who responded to flyers posted in the school newspaper and throughout the halls of the university – and coached by a member of the Vanderbilt baseball staff John Williamson. The Commodores’ record in that first season was 12-69.

After three years building the program and recruiting student-athletes who bought into Williamson’s “winning both ways” mentality of success both on the lanes and in the classroom, the ‘Dores defeated Maryland Eastern Shore in the finals of the 2007 National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Championship. The squad, which averaged a 3.5 GPA, was led by tournament MVP Josie Earnest whose two strikes in the 10th frame sealed the historic win.

The film, directed by award-winning filmmaker George Roy, features interviews with Williamson, Earnest (who is now the team’s associate head coach), the late David Williams (Vanderbilt’s Vice-Chancellor and Athletic Director from 2003-19), former Vanderbilt administrators Brian Reese and Rod Williamson and many former women’s bowling student-athletes who built the program from the ground up.

“‘Vandy Rolls’ is a really fun, but significant film,” Roy said. “Since it is a story that was largely unknown, it was really cool to shine a light on a group of tremendously inspiring young women who came to together to defeat the odds while making history for Vanderbilt University.

“It was a joy to tell their story and also a pleasure to spend so much time with these smart, impressive young women.”

Roy is a three-time Peabody Award-winning filmmaker. The Curse of the Bambino, Broad Street Bullies, Hitler’s Pawn, Mantle, Fists of Freedom and the When It Was a Game trilogy are among his twenty films for HBO Sports. He also has directed and edited numerous films and programs for SHOWTIME, CBS, A&E, FOX and ESPN.

Former founding partner of Black Canyon Productions and Flagstaff Films, Roy has been honored with five Emmy awards.

“It was a pleasure to capture the story of coach John Williamson who knew very little about bowling before taking the reins of the first-year team in 2004,” Roy noted. “John is a filmmaker’s dream… a humble, soft-spoken, unassuming character, but one with the heart of a champion who defied the odds.”

Williamson, the only coach in Vanderbilt bowling history, just led the Commodores to the program’s 40th tournament title and its third conference crown in six years. Vanderbilt will look to compete for its third NCAA title when they participate in the 2021 National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Championship – with the championship final live on ESPNU at 6 p.m. CT on April 10 – the weekend before Vandy Rolls debuts.