Valdosta Daily Times

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June 23, 2013

Valdosta Bowler rollin' toward dreams

VALDOSTA — The bowling alley is a second home to Courtney Gaskins; she’s heard the thunder of balls hitting pins and the smell of bowling alley nachos since she was a baby, and that’s no exaggeration.

“Her first time out of the house was to a bowling alley,” her mother, Laurie Gaskins, said.”

Courtney has been bowling since she was three years old, which might be a surprise if she wasn’t the child of Anthony and Laurie Gaskins, whom have been bowling since they were five and eight, respectively.

Courtney enjoys bowling as more than just a hobby.

After graduating this past year from Highland Christian Academy, Courtney made Valdosta history when she chose to attend Emmanuel College on a full bowling scholarship, the first person in Valdosta to earn a bowling scholarship.

Earning a scholarship like this has been years in the making for Courtney.

According to her father and coach, Anthony (who has 49 perfect games under his belt), Courtney’s talents really took off when she changed her approach at the age of eight.

Since that time, Courtney has barely put down a bowling ball, crushing the competition all throughout Georgia.

Each state organizes their own “Olympics” of sports like archery and bowling. In this state, the Georgia Games is this competition.

There are two ways to qualify for the Georgia Games.

One, is to qualify at the state held tournament, the other opportunity is through league play. One qualifying league play is held in November, the other is held in February.

The divisions in the Georgia Games bowling leagues are split by gender and average.

Each division bowls three games and the top ten in each division return to bowl Sunday.

Sunday, they bowl two more games before the field is cut to five.

  The top five bowl two elimination games to reach the top three.

  Finally, the top three compete in the "medal" round.

They bowl one game for gold, bronze and silver medals.

Courtney has made seven appearances at the annual tournament, she is the current five-time defending gold medalist in the women’s 175 average and above division.

 Her average is about 190 for the curious.

Courtney also bowled for the Georgia All-Star team this past season, making bowling a year round event.

The Georgia All-Stars are based in North Georgia, their home lane stationed in Athens.

There are three tryout sessions to be on the team that coaches attend. The coaches look at coachability, sportsmanship, skill, and personality, all traits Courtney possesses in spades.

The All-Stars participate in three tournaments throughout the year. One in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

At the Division 1 level, only 34 universities have a bowling team, and there are only five scholarships available per team. This makes for only 170 D1 bowling scholarships in the country, clearly making Courtney’s accomplishment very impressive.

Despite all the successes, Courtney remains modest about her exceptional bowling ability.

With her mother boasting that she was Emmanuel coach, Mark Lansing’s first scholarship choice, Courtney brushed it aside.

“He did find me through all-stars though,” Courtney said.

Many more people will find out about this bowling all-star soon enough.

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