Today@Sam Article

Bearkat Legends: Michelle Secours

May 10, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins

The following story is part of a series featuring the Bearkats inducted into Sam Houston State University’s Hall of Honor this fall. All seven inductees will be featured in Today@Sam articles throughout the academic year outlining their lives and athletic journeys.

Michelle Secours, one of Sam Houston State University’s newest Hall of Honor inductees, was in on the ground floor of the prestigious Bearkat bowling squad and helped guide the program to back-to-back top-10 national rankings in her two seasons on the lanes.

23AthleticsHOH06.jpg“It is great to see how far the program has come in the last decade,” Secours said. “People think of bowling as an individual sport, but we understood that the individual was not as big as the whole. Our team was very focused on being one, and that helped create a foundation for SHSU bowling.”

Secours grew up in East Rochester, New York, where her parents owned and operated a bowling center.

“I was really raised in the bowling community,” she said. “I grew up with it from an early age and would compete every weekend on a youth bowler’s tour. I was then a member of my high school bowling team as well as a travel league.”

Secours’ skills were immediately evident. She placed in the top 16 during the last few years of her Junior Gold competitions and earned third place in Teen Masters during her senior year at East Rochester High School. It ultimately turned into a way for her to earn a scholarship and go to college.

“I always wanted to pursue higher education, but not every family has the ability to do it,” she said. “Bowling was a way to take that financial burden away and just focus on studying and competing.”

Secours spent her first two collegiate years at Bellarmine University, a private, Catholic institution in Louisville. After her second season, she was recruited by SHSU head women’s bowling coach Brad Hagen in an unconventional way.

“Coach Hagen reached out on Facebook and asked if I’d be interested in Sam,” she said. “I really loved the school I was at, but making the move was a no-brainer.”

She drew Hagen’s interest after posting four top-five finishes and 13 top-25 performances in 21 intercollegiate events at Bellarmine. She produced back-to-back seasons with an overall pins average that ranked among the top-35 women's collegiate bowlers, making the move a no-brainer for the Bearkats, as well.

Hagen explained his enthusiasm in a 2011 quote:

"Michelle will be an essential asset to this team from the beginning and I truly believe she'll have a great career here at Sam Houston," Hagen said. "Her experience as an elite youth bowler and her collegiate background is exactly what I was looking for. She adds serious depth and experience to a roster that already has all of the above. Her enthusiasm, passion and work ethic academically, along with athletically, will fit perfectly in with the dynamics and standards that this team has set in place.”

Secours did not disappoint. She concluded her junior debut season by leading the Bearkats in average at 196.88 in 40 games and secured a pair of NCAA All-Tournament Team selections. The most memorable one was at the team’s home tournament, where Secours provided a 2011-2012 season-high single tournament average of 244.80 through five games at the inaugural TRACK Kat Klash on her 21st birthday. This helped SHSU win its first tournament championship of the season.

“That was a great feeling,” she said of her performance at the inaugural event. “When you bowl well individually and help your team win, obviously that’s the best-case scenario.”

Both seasons, she was named as an honorable mention 2013 National Ten Pins Coaches Association All-America selection. She sported a total pins average of 199.5 and was selected to the Music City Classic All-Tournament squad.  

Secours earned her undergraduate degree in criminal justice in the spring of 2013 before securing her master’s degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on forensics. She originally majored in psychology before switching to criminal justice while pursuing her undergrad.

“I was always interested in psychology, but also heard how great the CJ program was when I got to Sam,” she said. “You learn a lot of the same things, but from a perspective of enforcing the law. I started to realize that I wanted to focus more on helping people, so I switched back to psychology for my master’s.”

While interning at the Montgomery County Mental Health Facility in Conroe, she began working with individuals experiencing homelessness. This fed into her desire to help others and sparked a career she is still passionate about today.

“I started as a caseworker for housing services,” she said. “I would help individuals experiencing homelessness find housing and then help them stabilize.

Secours’ career has led her to her current role of Director of Housing and Homeless Services at a Dallas organization called The Stewpot, which offers a safe haven for the city’s homeless and at-risk population. They also provide resources for basic survival needs and opportunities to start a new life.

“I’m pretty content right now,” Secours said when asked what her future has in store. “I know I want to stay in the homeless service sector, but maybe branch out into affordable housing and the legal issues behind it to see if we can push some things in Texas to make affordable housing easier to achieve and break down some of the barriers that stand in the way of our clients.”

Secours was first informed she was joining SHSU’s prestigious Hall of Honor by her former teammate Kimi Davidson, who was inducted in 2019. She was honored with an induction ceremony on campus with her fellow inductees during the fall.

“It was great to see all of the other inductees and where they are at now in life,” she said. “My family got to be there, and we couldn’t believe they did all of that for us, it was such a nice weekend. I was only there for two years, so I hadn’t realized the impression I left.”

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