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The Sound of the Strike

By Whitney Jackson

The summer before Sam Peterson’s seventh grade year of school he was given a coupon for a free game of bowling for every day during the hot, homework-free months. Soon later, Sam had joined a small league and began learning how to curve the ball with one hand in order to get more spin, which would in turn knock more pins down.

Then came games averaging 215, numerous tournaments, trophies, and Sam’s new signature style of bowling two-handed.

Sam, a junior at Bemidji State University majoring in aquatic biology with a fisheries emphasis, now owns around 12 of his own bowling balls and has won over a dozen tournaments. He has traveled to Detroit to participate in Nationals, and has met his idol, Jason Belmonte. “He was the first person to get two-handed bowling started,” Peterson said. “He’s everything I want to be.”

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Sam Peterson poses with his bowling gear.

For the Farmington, Minnesota native, bowling became a way of life. “During my first year of high school, we made it to state,” Peterson said. “It was an all-conference tournament and I was the anchor. We won by two points. It was one of my happiest moments and everything just improved from there.” As a sophomore, Sam placed first in state individually, and then second in state when he was a junior. During his senior year, Sam made it to Nationals.

“Bowling is actually all physics,” Peterson said. “The angle, momentum, gravity, and the ball—it all matters.” From explaining the varying types of lane conditions to the core inside a bowling ball, Peterson knows it all. “It’s actually very, very hard,” he said. “But it’s going to be in the Olympics in the future as a tentative sport so that’s really cool.”

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Sam takes a moment to show off his bowling shoes.

While he may be the only one in his family who bowls non-stop, Peterson hasn’t given up hope that more people will join in on his passion. “I’ve actually given every person in my family a bowling ball, but it hasn’t really taken off,” he said. “I just feel like not many people really know bowling. If people could look past the stereotype of it being just a recreational pastime, it wouldn’t be a dying sport.”

For playing a sport that has the odds against you, Peterson remained positive that he would be continuing to be a part of bowling leagues for years to come. “My dream job out of college would be to work with the DNR or to be a professional bowler and travel the world,” he said. “Bowling is like music, you create your own sound and I love the sound of a good strike.”