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Striking his fancy

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Connersville’s Garrett Davidson, right, poses with professional bowler Ronnie Russellduring a Pro Am meet at 40 Bowl in Richmond, Ind. in Aug., 2017. Davidson, who willcompete atthe Junior Gold National tournament next month, says that Russell is is his favorite bowler.
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Connersville’s Garrett Davidson shows his bowling form in this photo, taken at Noblesville during the youth state bowling tournament in February. Davidson will bowl in the Junior Gold National Tournament in Dallas, Texas in July.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

Garrett Davidson is your ordinary 15-year-old boy, taken to the same likes and dislikes shared by his peers.

What he can do with a bowling ball, however, is anything but ordinary.

Wrapping his small hands around his first ball when he was a precocious 5-year-old, Davidson has turned that moment into something he hopes will take him places one day.

But first things first.

What makes a kindergarten student pick up a ball that weighs more than anything he’s ever lifted before, and toss it down a lane toward some pins?

Again, the answer to that is, by and large, typical.

“My mom and grandmother were both in a league, so I was around it a lot,” Davidson said.

Straying from the typical, the Connersville youngster picked up the nuances of the game rather quickly, and what started as something he could do to add time with his family, became an activity that could prove to be a big benefit for his future.

Next month, Davidson will take the biggest step yet in achieving success on the lane, when he polishes up his ball and heads to Dallas, Texas, to participate in the Junior Gold National tournament.

Earning an automatic qualification for the Junior Gold wasn’t easy, and in fact, Davidson fell short of that with a second-place finish at a tournament in Fort Wayne last October.

Well, sort of.

“When we returned home from the tournament, he was the second-place finisher by only a few pins,” mother Heidi Davidson said. “But in November, we got a call and was told that the boy who had beaten him was competing in the wrong age group.”

A lot can happen with just one phone call.

That said, the younger Davidson is ready for the upcoming challenge. One might even say that he’s been preparing for that phone call for quite some time.

An avid competitor in the sport, Davidson spends at least three days a week eyeing pins at the end of a 60-foot lane.

He can be found training at both Plaza Lanes in Connersville and 40 Bowl in Richmond.

But that’s not where he benefits most.

“I go to All-Star Bowl in Indianapolis most of the time,” he said.

There, he receives instruction from Teresa Smith-Dill and Dan Smith, a pair of coaches with whom he’s been associated with for about a year.

“A former teammate of mine was going to them, and he introduced us,” Davidson said. “They help a lot with the mental game and the aspect of keeping my head in the game.

“They also teach me technique and help me learn to read oil patterns from lane to lane. Doing that tells me how my ball should react.”

Along the way, he’s met several others that have motivated him, taught him, and fostered his love of the game.

One of those inspirations is Ronnie Russell from Marion, Ind., his favorite professional bowler.

“I have been watching him bowl since I was very young,” Davidson said.

The Connersville youth actually got a chance to bowl with Russell, the two of them meeting at a Pro-Am event in Richmond last summer.

And his recollection of that opportunity?

“I was able to pretty much keep up with him most of the way,” he said with a smile.

Using what he’s learned from coaches, mentors, and just some good old hard work, Davidson’s average stands at about 187, though the youngster cautions that that number is fluid.

“It can vary a bit, depending on the league or house,” he said. 

Last year, he turned in both his best game (289) and series (721) on the same night. Such an effort one month from now would be quite a welcome sight for the teenager.

Getting to the Junior Gold meet in Texas is a costly process, one that Davidson is hoping he can get a little help with.

He and his family are currently hoping to raise $2,000 for the trip.

An account has been established at Natco Credit Union under the name of Garrett Davidson for those interested in lending a financial boost.

For anyone with questions, or those looking to find ways to help Garrett, Heidi can be reached by telephone at 317-617-9789.