My parents really got me into bowling. I started when I was about three, and I pretty much grew up in a bowling alley. My mom used to bring my playpen to the alley, so that lets you know how much I was in there.
Eventually I learned how to bowl. But starting off, I would just kind of throw the ball down the lane and my mom and dad would let me figure out how to get good. One day, when I was around six or seven, my mom told me she'd take the bumpers down and if I threw it in the gutter, I'd have to quit bowling. That's how I learned to keep on the lane. My parents were not about to let me use the bumpers.
The most challenging thing for me when I began bowling was learning the mechanics. I never had a coach to teach me, so I was really raw. What I knew was just what I taught myself. There's a lot that goes into bowling that people don't know about: different hand positions, looking at all the different marks that you can throw at, or what you want the ball to do.
Last year, I was asked if I wanted to bowl in the World Series of Bowling. Obviously I was going to say yes to that. In the World Series, you have to bowl a whole lot of games in a row. You bowl nine games a day, and that's not easy. People think bowling is just bowling, but nine games for four days in a row — that kind of wears on you.
I was surprised by how much professional bowlers go through. I didn't want to get in their way or disrespect their profession in any way. [Competing] gave me more respect for what they go through.
Whether or not I continue bowling professionally will be a game-time decision, really. But I'll keep taking my bowling seriously. I never really did go for cosmic bowling.
— as told to Dante A. Ciampaglia
Photos: Hollis Bennett (bowling), Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images (baseball)