Aida Sanchez, one of three seniors on the 2012 Bearkat women's bowling team, is proud to be part of Sam Houston sports history.

Last year, she and fellow seniors Dayna Galganski and Lisa MacAllister were members of the university's first women's bowling team, a squad that went on to become the only inaugural program ever to earn a berth in the NCAA Division I women's bowling championship tournament.

"I am extremely honored to have been part of the first team here at Sam Houston and to have a part in making NCAA bowling history," the senior music therapy major from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. "But the best part about being here in Huntsville is the bond I share with my teammates. They are like sisters to me."

A veteran of more than 15 years of international play, Sanchez came to Sam Houston as a transfer from Wichita State.

"This has been a great experience," Sanchez said. "I love my teammates. And the support we've received here has been amazing. They didn't support the bowling team at Wichita State at all. But here, lots of people, even players on the football team come up to us and say 'hey, you'all are really doing well.' It's awesome."

Sanchez credits her mother for her success in bowling.

"My mother is the kind of mom who will put their kids to do every activity they can think of," Sanchez said. "The summer of 1995, when the Domincan Republic opened its new bowling alley, they had a summer camp and my mother enrolled me. I just never left."

Sanchez has been a member of either the Dominican National Youth Team or Adult Team since 2004.

"Aida's passion for bowling along with her dynamic personality definitely have added an important flare to the team and their accomplishments," Sam Houston bowling coach Brad Hagen said. "Aida's empathy toward other team members is an important element in fostering teamwork and a strong attribute that she continues to bring to the table among teammates."

Her fellow seniors echo that sentiment.

"If you miss a spare, Aida is the first person you saying encouraging you the shake it off," McAllister said. "She's always there to uplift everybody."

"Living together and competing together, we seniors have become close," Galganski said. "We've all shared a lot. Hopefully, when the NCAA selections are announced, we'll get to share one more big event."

Following graduation, Sanchez looks to work on a master's degree in a field related to her bachelor's degree in music therapy.

"This summer, I will go to Jamaica to work with the homeless," Sanchez said. "I plan to continue bowling and competing internationally for the Dominican Republic."

As head coach, Hagen is quick to point out how valuable the leadership of his three seniors has been to Sam Houston State women's bowling.

"Dayna, Lisa and Aida all have contributed immensely to development of this program," Hagen said. "They've certainly done their part."

While last year's trip to the NCAA Elite Eight was a highlight, Sanchez points to this year's Track Kat Klash Classic tournament in Huntsville in December as her favorite Bearkat moment.

"The tournament was our first home event ever and all our friends came out to support us," Sanchez said. "Winning the tournament on our home lanes was exciting. And then we got to douse Coach Hagen with a bucket of ice water after the trophy presentation. That was a lot of fun."