Leah Glazer fell in love with bowling when she was 9. A decade later, she has a shot at representing the U.S. in tournaments around the world.
Glazer, a petite 19-year-old Bishop Gorman High School graduate, is one of two female bowlers from Las Vegas in the annual Team USA Trials at the Gold Coast.
She’s got a lot of competition, too. There are 155 women and 175 men from across the country in the trials, which run Thursday through Monday.
The United States Bowling Congress, which hosts the event, will select at least 12 men and 12 women for Team USA. Younger bowlers like Glazer will get a shot at Junior Team USA if they don’t make the main team.
“I think there’s a lot more to bowling than people realize,” Glazer said during Wednesday’s practice rounds. “You have to have focus and discipline. You have to be driven, no doubt.”
Glazer, a sophomore on the bowling team at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, said she dropped other sports when she was 9½ and devoted herself to bowling after she learned about opportunities to bowl in college. She spends up to six days a week bowling and working out, and she reads books about the psychology of the game.
“I love anything that lets me be competitive,” she said. “I get super into bowling, super into working out; I’m just really intense.”
Bowling, it turns out, is the great equalizer.
“Bowling is a sport that anybody can play. It doesn’t matter if you’re older or younger, or what your athletic ability is,” said Stephen Padilla, director of coaching certification for the USBC. “Above all, they have to have a love of the sport.”
In professional and amateur bowling, the playing field is level, said Emil Williams Jr., a longtime bowler and Team USA spokesman. Men and women can compete against each other, and teenagers can compete alongside older bowlers.
While bowling is a physical sport, the most important part is the mental game, he said.
“It’s how they react in high-pressure situations, how they respond to adversity,” Williams said.
After its 2019 members are selected, Team USA will compete at the Bowling World Championships in France in March.
“I just can’t wait,” Glazer said of the chance to represent her country. “I’m so, so, so excited.”
The Team USA Trials will be livestreamed at YouTube.com/BowlTV.