NO GUTTER GUARDS FOR GILLIAM
BY: EMMA BLAKE BYRUM on OCTOBER 10, 2014
Gutter balls for junior Christian Gilliam are few and far between. With a little “spare” time and hard work, he can roll strikes all day long.
Gilliam started bowling in the sixth grade and has continued to play throughout middle and high school.
“I just picked it up as a hobby, and I decided I’d get good at it,” Gilliam said.
For the past six years, Gilliam has been practicing at the AMF Bowling Alley on Red Banks Road every weekend as a part of the Saturday Youth League.
In addition to the Saturday Youth League, Gilliam plans on taking his bowling to the next level.
“There’s a state tournament every year that I play in, and then there’s a tournament sponsored by Pepsi that I play in,” Gilliam said. “ [This] year I am [playing] on a travel team where all we do is just go to tournaments,” Gilliam said.
The USCB state tournament takes place in Gastonia, right outside of Charlotte. Three age groups compete for the chance to advance to a national tournament that takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada every year. The first and second place winners from each age group division earn this opportunity.
Gilliam has played in all three divisions as he has gotten older. The highest he has placed was third, only one spot away from the national tournament, when he was in the ninth grade playing in the second age group.
The Pepsi tournament takes place every year in Greenville at the AMF Bowling Alley. Leagues from Greenville and the surrounding area are invited to play in this tournament. First, second and third place winners all receive a varying amount of scholarship money.
“I went out there and did my best and found out I’m pretty good at bowling,” Gilliam said.
Others have noticed Gilliam’s talent and have reached out. Most recently he has been asked to play with the Junior Bowlers of America. He refers to the group as the “minor leagues” of bowling.
He has also won scholarship money from local tournaments. On of these scholarships is the SMART scholarship.
“[The money] just goes in a fund until you are finished with your bowling, and when you decide that you are done bowling, you just put it toward college, and it can buy you books or whatever you really want.” Gilliam said.
Gilliam has maintained a personal best score of 286 with 11 consecutive strikes. A perfect score in bowling is a 300, or 12 consecutive strikes..
As Gilliam continues to play, maybe a perfect game, or a ticket to a national tournament isn’t that far out of sight.