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Dustin Minor loves to bowl for the challenge, fun and “knowing that if you throw that ball just right you’ll get a strike.”

Bowling for sport, bowling for scholarships

8th grader wants to encourage other kids to bowl

            Dustin Minor is in his element when he’s talking about bowling. The Pickens Jr. High student explains with great knowledge lane oil patterns and what affects them, how to pick which ball to use when, and other bowling deets casual players don’t know about

His high score of 246 and average game score of 198 are a good indication of his skill level.

            After I jokingly asked if he’s stopped being invited to his friends birthday parties at bowling alleys, Dustin and his parents Shaun and Jessica talked about under-the-radar sport that kids can get involved in on a variety of levels.

            Dustin, an 8th grader, plays on a youth bowling league, in a bevy of tournaments, and recently made the Georgia Interstate Bowling All-Stars team. He wants to encourage other kids to get into the sport. He says it’s a fun alternative to traditional school sports, can be played year-round, and provides regular opportunities to win scholarship money for college in league and tournaments. That scholarship money goes into a an account and builds up until the student goes to college.

            Dustin’s bowling career began just a few years ago in 4th grade, and he’s showing no signs of stopping.

            “Covid started and I had nothing to do,” he said. “My uncle told me, ‘Let’s get you off your butt,’ and he took me bowling. He loved bowling.”

            Now Dustin loves bowling just as much. Dustin’s parents have been amazed by the opportunities the sport provides for kids.

Dustin Minor, right, at the Junior Gold Championship in July in Indianapolis, Ind. This is a national championship that they qualified for bowling in monthly tournaments here in Georgia (Georgia Youth Bowling Tour). There were kids from all 50 states. He is also pictured with (L-R) Cameron Whitaker, Hunter Moffitt, Ty Carter.

             “You associate bowling with adults, but you have no idea how much there is for youth,” said Shaun. “It’s also a year-round indoor sport so weather isn’t an issue.” 

            After playing a little that first year, Dustin wanted to keep going so his uncle paid for his first Saturday league season. He still plays Saturday league season at Cherokee Lanes in Canton. It’s 32 weeks long with three people on each team. They play three games and top scoring team wins.

            “A regular week for us is chaos,” said Shaun. “But it’s as much or little as you want to do with it. It’s just amazing.”

            Tuesdays Dustin is at Cherokee Lanes practicing. He also practices Wednesdays at Stars and Strikes in Woodstock with his coach, who saw something special in the young player and took him under his wing.

            “He worked in the pro shop and I guess saw a lot of potential in the way I was bowling,” Dustin said. “One day he asked ‘What do you want to do with bowling? Go to college? Go pro? Or just be recreational?’ I said go to college, and he said, ‘All right. I’ll help you get there.’”

            Students can scholarship in bowling and get a full ride to college, which is what Dustin ultimately wants to do. His coach is training him to play like Jason Sterner, a professional bowler with three national PBA titles.

            In the last year Dustin’s average has increased from 134 at the end of 2022 season. In May 2023 it was a 165. Now it’s a 198. His ball speed is about a 16 mph average.

            “His growth in that period of time has been amazing to watch,” she said.

            Dustin’s mom said she loves watching her son bowl and interact with other kids who play, and both parents said the support players show each other is inspiring.

            “There’s such a diverse group of kids and personalities,” she said. “It doesn’t seem to matter what’s going on, they all are cheering for each other even if they’re bowling against each other. It’s not cut throat at all. It’s been really eye opening going and seeing the number of kids there. It’s definitely at a different level now than when I was bowling.”

            Locally, Dustin likes the Cherokee Lanes and AMF in Woodstock. Southern Lanes in Douglasville and Gold Cup in Warner Robins are favorites outside of the area. He has six balls and uses a 14 pounder. His favorite ball is a Storm Phaze II.

            “It smells like red velvet,” said Shaun laughing. “ They put scents in some of them.” 

            It’s more involved than most people think.

            When it comes down to it, Dustin loves bowling for “the challenge, and knowing that if you throw that ball just right you’ll get a strike,” he said. “It’s fun.”

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