Area youth is recipient of state-wide honor
At the age of 11, Konner King of Altoona has probably bowled a lot more than most people twice his age, and it’s paying off quite nicely for him and his family.
King, a student at Penn Lincoln Elementary in Altoona, was recently named the recipient of the 2021 Don Swartz Sportsmanship Award for bowling in the state of Pennsylvania. Only four are given out annually and King got one of them.
“I was very excited (when I heard I won), mostly because I didn’t even know about it,” says Konner, who just finished fifth grade this past school year. “My mom handed me the letter telling me I had won”
The scholarship award is worth $500 and one boy and one girl in grades K-8 and 9-12 are eligible to win. And you can say that Konner has put the work in, considering he has been bowling since he was 18 months old according to his dad, Bill.
“I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s just a big part of my life,” says Konner, who was part of the ADUSBC doubles championship team and team championship this past season. “It’s challenging and I just love it.”
Konner isn’t just a one sport star at this point in his young life as he also enjoys baseball, basketball and archery. But during bowling season, that sport keeps him plenty busy throughout the week.
“I usually play once a week sometimes in the summer, twice a week during the winter,” says Konner, who competes in the local youth leagues in Altoona on Saturday mornings with practice on Wednesdays. “I also do travel tournaments.”
Bill and his wife, Nikki, also have a daughter, Kylee, who bowled in junior leagues when she was younger, but did not continue the sport as she grew older. Konner has a younger brother, Kameron, who is 7 and just started bowling.
“I’ve been Konner’s coach since he first started and I have coached the youth program at Holiday Bowl for the past nine or 10 years,” Bill says. “My wife and I are extremely proud of Konner and his achievements. We were astonished that he was chosen to be this year’s recipient, but oh-so proud because we know he is very deserving of the award.”
The award is based on commitment, sportsmanship and leadership according to the USBC website. It also helps that Konner’s high game (204), high series (468) as well as winning youth bowler of the year in 2019 look pretty good on a resume, too. To date, at his age, he has earned $4,850 in scholarship money.
“I really love the sport and I hope to continue doing this all my life,” says Konner, who is well aware that colleges offer bowling scholarships nowadays. “I also dream of one day becoming a professional bowler and bowling in college is a great step in learning how to manage myself in the game.”
According to Bill, there are a lot more chances for kids to compete and succeed in bowling nowadays than back when he was his son’s age.
“When I was younger, there were not as many opportunities for youth bowlers as there are today,” he says. “I want to give my kids as much as an opportunity as I can to help them achieve their dreams.”