By: Melissa A. Kay
While most of us send the bowling ball down the “gutter” half the time, the far more finessed 10-year-old Kai Strothers of Maplewood, NJ is showing us a thing or two about bowling like a pro. After recently bowling a perfect score, the multi-award winning bowling enthusiast (and many would argue, expert) is soon headed to the 2019 Junior Gold Championships in Detroit, MI to once again prove his potential and compete with some of the finest bowlers from around the country in his division. After making it to the top 20% there last year, Strothers is geared up to go at it again, perform even stronger, and bowl better than ever. By the way things are going, he’s going to be great.
Strother’s mom Sharonda shared that her son started bowling at the tender age of 4. “By the time he was 6-7, we knew he had something special,” she says. Coming from a long line of avid bowlers – both mom and dad bowl, both sets of grandparents too, and even his uncles get in on the action – it is really no wonder that Strothers is such a sensation. While it takes plenty of practice and persistence, surely his family believes they’ve got a little something to do with the 10-year-old’s success.
Speaking of practice, Strothers spends lots of time at Linden Lanes and Jersey Lanes, both in Linden. “Kai loves how the sport challenges him to continuously make good shots over and over at a high rate; it makes him think,” his mom says. Strothers believes, “If you love a sport, any sport, you have to practice and don’t get upset if things are not going as well as you hoped. Be patient. Sometimes it gets hard but trust the process and thank your parents.” Sage advice from a youngster who clearly has a mature perspective and a good head on his shoulders.
While this year’s Junior Gold Championships is on Strothers’ mind at the moment, he is certainly no stranger to success. He has won numerous awards; just recently he aced the NJ state championship – the NJ State Pepsi Youth Championships. He also took home 1st place in the TNBA Eastern Regional Junior Tournament in Durham, NC. Other bowling achievements include:
2017 TNBA Eastern Region – Boston, MA – Division 2, 1st place, 2017 NJ State Youth Tournament – Division C 1st place, 2018 NJ State Youth Tournament – Division B 1st place, 2018 TNBA Eastern Region – Richmond, VA – Division 1, 1st place, 2018 Parker Bohn Annual Scholarship Tournament – 2nd place, 2018 Bowlero Mid-Atlantic Youth Championship – 4th place, 2018 Youth Open – U10 Boys Singles & All Events – 2nd place and U12 Doubles & Team Event – 2nd place.
Surely Strothers can find room on the shelf for another trophy if he strikes his way to success at the Junior Gold Championships this July! And this event is nothing to sneeze at; this is a major undertaking, especially for a 10-year-old. Sharonda explains, “The Junior Gold (Nationals) is a huge event. Youth from all over the country come here to compete. Kai will bowl in the U12 division. He will bowl for six days straight at different times, at different bowling alleys on different lane conditions. The prize if he advances to finals will be scholarship money and the ceremony will air on live TV.” Sounds wonderfully exciting, not only for the sheer experience but for the potential to outscore the others who are also at the top of their game. Perhaps he’ll make some likeminded lifelong friends in the process.
While bowling is obviously Strothers’ strong suit, it is not his only interest. Mom says, “Outside of bowling, Kai is a typical 10-year-old boy that loves recess at school, football, playing Xbox with his friends, going to the park, and doesn’t always like to eat his veggies.” C’mon mom, who does?
As for what the future holds, Strothers wants to become a PBA (Professional Bowling Association) bowler. If his expertise by this point is any indication, we can expect to see Strothers’ dreams come true. One thing’s for sure, Strothers is on the ball and has already found his lane in life!