Naperville North boys bowling began competing at the varsity level five years ago. The program has had an impact on so many young men at the school and the district. The development of the Bowl Dawgs inspired senior Noah Peterson to join the team for the first time last season as a ramp bowler. Find out more in this feature presented by Edward Medical Group.
Coach Sanford: “We learned a couple of years ago that Noah was interested in being on the team and we couldn’t be more excited because he brought so much positive energy. Him on the lanes with us on a regular basis has only made our team better.”
It took a lot for Noah Peterson to make it to this point as a Naperville North student athlete. Born prematurely at just 24 weeks, Noah weighed under two pounds at birth. He has had over 60 surgeries to date, most of which were on his brain for hydrocephalus, as well as his heart and his eye. Also born with cerebral palsy, Noah requires the use of Ankle-Foot Orthotics on both legs to stabilize his walking. Despite all these obstacles, Peterson has worked hard to make the best of this adversity, and is now one of a select few ramp bowlers competing in the state of Illinois.
Even with the difference in bowling style, he is a full fledged member of the team, practicing each day and competing in matches, which is rare for adaptive sport athletes.
When he arrived on the squad, there was a bit of an adjustment for his teammates and coaches. However, once they got to know Peterson, they quickly became a tight-knit group.
Sanford: “We realized what a cheerleader he was for everybody else and we all cheered him every time he knocked the pins down. Now when we start a match, the guys just look for Noah. Noah’s done a great job leading off our chants sometimes.”
Clayton Stallings: “Noah’s awesome! I remember I first sat with him in Social Studies eighth grade year, but he’s a super duper kind, awesome guy. And it’s just awesome whenever he does well, we all get super excited.”
Since that time, the second-year Bowl Dawg has really enjoyed being a ramp bowler as well as the relationships he’s built with his fellow Huskies.
Noah Peterson: “Bowling is a fun experience. You meet a lot of guys and you meet a lot of players from the other team.”
While he really likes competing in ramp bowling, his favorite part about being on the team is traveling, but mainly to Fox Bowl, which is the home of the Huskies.
Peterson: “Going to matches, home ones for sure. Not away ones because those are far!”
Ramp bowling is exactly what it sounds like; bowling while using a ramp. The ramp is like the arm swing and it gives the ball direction. Before the bowler is ready, he or she aligns the ramp to where they want the ball to go. When it’s in place, they gently nudge the ball forward to get it rolling then grab the ramp with both hands to help keep it stable before the ball heads down the lane to the pins.
Stallings: “Well I’ve seen the ramps and we’ve used them before like a couple times, but yeah I think it’s a really awesome thing that people can do. I don’t know, I think it’s pretty cool so it’s just a really unique type of bowling.’
The ramp is about 25 inches high, 27 inches wide, and 56 inches long. Peterson has become very comfortable using it and it’s led to quite a bit of success.
Peterson: “I improved very well. Like aiming my ramp very well, positioning it really well.”
Sanford: “It’s all Noah where that ball goes so Noah’s going to aim that every time even though he’ll have an adult with him making sure he gets that ball up on the ramp. Noah has aimed it right where he wants it to go.”
The senior has been an inspiration to every member of the team and he has made his presence felt in a big way since joining North. Even after he leaves, his influence will inspire his teammates and future adaptive bowlers interested in joining the sport.
Sanford: “Noah’s made a lasting impact on our team. A big aspect of our team is legacy. We want to leave a legacy and we will for a long time embrace his spirit that he brought to our team.”
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Josiah Schueneman.
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