When someone hears “athletic scholarships,” they’re likely to picture a teenager playing soccer, football or basketball. But Oak Bowl, a bowling alley located in Oak Harbor, wants you to know it’s possible for kids who like bowling to earn scholarships through the Strike for College program.
Through Strike for College, bowlers 18 years old and under can earn scholarship money to cover partial expenses for college tuition, books or housing.
To be eligible for the scholarships, the program requires regular attendance on Fridays. The more skilled the bowler, the more money he or she is likely to be awarded.
Eighteen-year-old Michael Jones V is a regular at Oak Bowl and has 13 years of bowling experience. By joining the Striking for College Youth League, he’s received scholarship funds that will help him cover some costs at Iowa State, where he is about to start his freshman year and join the school’s bowling club.
“I really like the fact that it’s an individual sport,” he said. “I can only rely on myself.”
The funds come from the United States Bowling Congress and are distributed by Oak Bowl at the end of each league season — fall, winter and spring.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Jones said. “You get scholarship money, get to have a good time with a bunch of other kids your age, you get to learn from the coaches and some of the kids. Even if it’s only 200 bucks at the end of the day, that’s still some books for college.”
“It’s not a lot of money on the league level,” said Barb Abbott, league coordinator and youth coach at Oak Bowl.
According to Oak Bowl’s Facebook page, some kids may receive $5, while those who qualify for other tournaments may receive more than $2,600.
“If you’re good enough, that’s when you’re gonna make some money,” Abbott said.
Jones and Abbott encourage kids not to get discouraged if they don’t play the perfect game and to take advantage of the scholarship opportunity.
“Bowling is a lot more complicated than people make it out to be,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of decisions that go into it, and you have to make those decisions in the heat of the moment.”
For this reason, experienced bowlers like Jones help the kids improve their technique and confidence. This spring during a league competition, Jones bowled a 298 game. His peer, 16-year-old Carlos Orozco, scored 300 — a perfect game.
Abbott, who’s been coordinator at Oak Bowl for seven years, said those were the best games she’s seen at a junior bowl.
“Getting a perfect game is really tough,” Abbott said, explaining that many adults with years or even decades of experience at the alley have never scored that high.