As all-American things go, baseball and apple pie may get the bulk of the press, but the noble sport of bowling and the spacious indoor enclosures that house lane after lane of the finest timber the mighty woodlands of this glorious land certainly merit inclusion on the list.
And carrying on this national tradition in impressive fashion is Kai Strothers of Maplewood, New Jersey, who at age 10 became the second-youngest bowler on record to roll a perfect 300 score, according to nj.com.
Strothers was a diapered 18-month-old when he first gave a ball a push, and by the age of four, he was already competing in a league.
At eight, so the report goes, “the hobby became a passion,” and anyone who’s had kids knows just how deep those passions can run when a child falls in love with a pastime or an idea.
And now, at 10, the kid’s doing the kind of thing that the pros on TV do once in a blue moon.
In addition to taking a silver medal of sorts in the global age derby, Strothers is the youngest in New Jersey ever to roll a perfect game.
And like any truly passionate bowler, Strothers even named his ball — “The Idol” did its pin-crushing work, a 14-pound pinkish-purple sphere of annihilation crashing through the pocket like a miniature apocalypse for 12 consecutive magical throws.
Because no good kid-does-something-awesome story is complete without a gushing parent, that role was amply played by Kai’s mother, Sharonda Strothers.
“I was ecstatic, I was jumping around everywhere,” she said. “You’re overwhelmed with pride and joy, and to see him accomplish something that grown adults that have been bowling for years and years haven’t done, it’s just amazing.”
The Strothers bloodline is a proud warrior heritage in the ageless battle between man and bowling pin, leaving lane sweepers bereft of standing deadwood to whisk away, the odd fallen scrap not yet blown backward into the automatic pinsetter the only visual evidence of a need for such machines at all.
Kai’s grandfather had the bowler’s gene in his DNA, and his parents are both in bowling leagues. What’s more, Kai’s uncle has a couple of perfect games of his own under his belt — though notably he had to attain the status of grown man before achieving the feat.
Two years ago, at age eight, Kai found meditation on the hardwood, and he bowls at least four times a week, putting his Gladwell hours in and achieving mastery.
And his mother is more than willing to feed her son’s passion.
“He eat, sleep, and drinks bowling. Even when he’s not bowling, he’s on his phone on a bowling game. It’s what he loves,” she said.
And while some kids in New Jersey may dream of glory on the gridiron, and others of swatting home runs over the fences at Yankee Stadium, Kai Strothers dreams only of the Professional Bowlers’ Association, where a mere million people may watch him on television, and where prize money pales in comparison to the $153 million LeBron James will make with the Lakers over the next four seasons, but where a boy obsessed with the sport of bowling can compete at the highest level.
Kai’s mother, happily, knows full well the importance of a good perspective and ensures that her son maintains that perspective as well.
“I love that he’s passionate, but he still has to go to school,” she added. “He’s talented and gifted, and we always remind him to just stay humble and stay grateful.”
Every kid needs something to enjoy to keep them out of trouble, and if being the best in the world at it happens to come out of the pursuit, so much the better.
Heck, plenty of Major League Baseball players once saw time in the national spotlight as kids in the Little League World Series, so who’s to say the PBA Tour can’t have a story like that of its own?
Meanwhile, on the lanes of Garden State suburbia, that sound you hear of pins crashing might just be a precocious 10-year-old doing what he loves most.
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