Bowie swaps sports
Photo courtesy of Chris Donahue
Drake hasn’t won the Missouri Valley Conference Championship since 2008 when Keno Davis led the Bulldogs to an NCAA appearance. Despite several early MVC Championship exits since, the 2012-13 Bulldogs again boast a winner’s perspective courtesy of senior forward Matt Bowie.
Bowie joins the Bulldogs a year after winning the 2011 Pioneer Football League Championship as a Drake tight end. When head coach Mark Phelps offered Bowie a spot on his 2012-13 lineup, Bowie took the opportunity.
“This summer, Coach Phelps approached me and told me that I could be an asset on the basketball team, so I took advantage of that and decided to join this team,” Bowie said.
Bowie’s perspective likewise benefits the Bulldogs, who look to claim their first MVC Championship under Phelps.
“One good thing that we talked about with Matt is, he’s been a part of a championship, and there’s a certain championship culture that only champions have been a part of, and I think he can give us some insight into that culture,” Phelps said.
Though the programs differ, Bowie’s background complements Drake’s 2012-13 vision.
“I think we’re building a really good, close-knit, championship-level culture,” Phelps said. “I like what Seth VanDeest and Jordan Clarke and Chris Hines are bringing to the program, but I think Matt kind of enhanced that because he’s done it. Yes, it’s a different sport, but he’s done it at Drake.”
Bowie faced change after change throughout his switch, beginning with the teams’ different sizes.
“He’s realized that they’re two completely different sports,” Phelps said. “I mean, he knew that, but there’s a lot more attention on each individual player. There’s four coaches for 15 guys, whereas for football, the ratio is a lot different, so he’s making the adjustment.”
Bowie also faced physical adjustments throughout his transition. As a tight end, Bowie focused on strength. As a forward, though, he focuses on conditioning.
“For football shape, you had to maintain weights, and it’s all about strength and things like that,” Bowie said. “Basketball is definitely more focused on conditioning and being leaner and things like that.”
Though Bowie faced change after change, both programs’ “family atmosphere” eased his transition.
“It has been a really easy transition,” Bowie said. “Both programs really focus on a family atmosphere, and I really have felt that through the transition.”
A new role yields new goals. Bowie’s tight end skills remain intact, though.
“I hope to bring leadership on and off the court,” Bowie said. “I hope to bring physicality that, you know, I learned in football to practice every day in basketball. I just hope to be a role model for some of the younger guys.”
Bowie’s leadership has already caught his teammates’ attention.
“I expect him to bring a different aspect of leadership to the team since he’s been a part of a championship team, with the football team last year, so I’m expecting him to bring what they incorporated with that team to this team to help us build,” said redshirt sophomore forward Jeremy Jeffers. “He never quits, and I think that’s something that every player has to have in order to be in a sport.”
Though his role on game day isn’t yet set, Bowie already plays a pivotal role in Drake’s preseason progress.
“We’re just asking him to do his best,” Phelps said. “In terms of on the court, I don’t think that’s been established yet what his role will be on the court, but I think in practice, he’s a valuable part of our program right now.”
As the Bulldogs look to build an MVC Championship culture, Bowie’s PFL past offers a valuable perspective. Bowie won’t worry about the 2013 MVC Championship yet, though. He’s still adjusting to his new role “one day at a time.”
“We haven’t really sat down and talked a lot about team goals yet since the season hasn’t quite yet started, but we definitely want to always be doing our best and driving towards our potential,” Bowie said. “We can hopefully improve on the things we built last year. I just want to take it one day at a time and always stay positive and really focus on contributing what I can to the team.”