Born a natural: Carson sophomore has eyes on college scholarship, PBA Tour |

Born a natural: Carson sophomore has eyes on college scholarship, PBA Tour

Darrell Moody
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

You could say Joey Bowers was born to bowl.

“When I was 18 months old, I had Pepsi cans set up in the hallway and I would roll a ball at them,” said the 15-year-old Bowers, who is a student at Carson High School. “My parents were in leagues and they always took me with them, so I was down there a lot. When I was 3, I was in a league.”

Nearly 14 years after his hallway bowling, Bowers has turned into a dominating force on the Northern Nevada junior bowling circuit, his average ranging from 215 to 230. He also is Carson High’s best bowler, and a big reason why the school has won nearly 80 straight matches against other high school teams in the area.

Bowers, 15, has rolled four 300 games in the last 14 months, three in open bowling and one in a high school match. He also has a bunch of games in the 290s.

The first 300 came on Feb. 25, 2009, at Coconut Bowl in Sparks. It wasn’t sanctioned because it was in open play, but it’s one he’ll remember for a long time.

“It was right before a high school match,” Bowers said. “I was just practicing and it happened. My favorite house is Coconut. I’ve done so well there the last couple of years. Two of my 300s have been there and I’ve won three or four junior tournaments there.

“I was pumped up with adrenaline. I’d seen so many of my friends bowl them. It was amazing.”

A little more than two weeks later, Bowers was perfect again, this time at Gold Dust West. He had to wait a little more than nine months for his third 300, which also came in a practice round.

The first sanctioned 300 happened on Jan. 27 of this year. Carson was bowling a league match against Bishop Manogue. As Bowers piled up strike after strike, people started to take notice.

“The whole house (bowling alley) got quiet when I started the 10th frame,” Bowers said. “We were bowling Manogue and they have the biggest team. It was very nerve racking.”

Bowers is hoping to parlay his junior league success, which includes a couple of Pepsi State titles, into a spot on a college bowling team and later the PBA Tour.

Bowers is interested in attending San Jose State, UNLV and Wichita State. The Carson standout said the Robert Morris University coach is scheduled to be in the Reno area on May 10 to watch him bowl.

Bowers said that there is no age limit in turning pro, and that is his ultimate goal. He also knows that an education is important, too, and that the PBA Tour still will be there when he gets out of college.

Part of Bowers’ success can be attributed to his coach, Vernon Barnes, a former PBA bowler himself for several years.

“I’ve been coaching him since he was 12,” said Vernon Barnes, Bowers’ personal coach and a former pro bowler himself. “His dad knew I was a certified coach, and he wanted me to help him out. We’ve hit it off real well.”

Under Barnes’ tutelage, Bowers’ career started to take off.

“When I turned 14, everything started to kick off,” Bowers said. “I became a lot more consistent.”

“He’s an excellent bowler,” Barnes said. “I work with him 2-3 times a week. We work on everything; his release, his arm swing and being solid at the line. We’re doing everything a bowler needs to do. He has really blossomed. He does PBA patterns pretty good right now. He’s just an excellent bowler.”

With big success comes big expectations. And when expectations aren’t met then it can lead to problems. As soon as Bowers accepts that he isn’t going to bowl 250 every time out the better off he’ll be, according to Barnes. Demeanor is just as important in bowling as it is in golf.

“He has a little temper,” Barnes said. “He gets upset with himself a lot. I’m trying to make the game fun for him. He sometimes makes the game hard for himself (by getting angry).”