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Local Bowler Lights Up The Lanes
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He was in seventh grade the first time he picked up a bowling ball and threw it down the lanes.

"My friend invited me to go bowl with him, I went but I didn't really expect a whole lot out of it," admitted Matt Little, 18, of Escalon. "At first, I was horrible...but I loved it."

And because he enjoyed it so much, Little stuck with the sport, even got a coach and kept at it until he showed improvement.

Vast improvement.

The teen now has three perfect games to his credit, notching the 300 score three separate times in league competition. He has received two scholarships for his excellence in the sport and has a couple of other trophies as well, one of them a commemorative '300' ring presented by the Young American Bowling Alliance.

"I use a 15 pound ball, a Storm Eraser," he explained. "Most people use a 15-pound ball, some use a 14."

Little now bowls in league two times a week, hitting the lanes at McHenry Bowl on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

His first perfect game came on Jan. 30, 2002. The other two he has bowled this year.

"I was nervous," he said as he remembered the feelings of that first game when the perfect 300 was within reach. "I was really nervous. On the last strike, I almost didn't get it, one pin stayed up but then one pin rolled from the back and knocked it down."

Little said if he gets to the seventh frame with all strikes, that's when he starts thinking about the possibility of perfection.

And now that he has several years of experience, Little said he can approach the game more easily.

"I usually just think about something else," he said of when he steps to the line with bowling ball in hand. "It's pretty natural, I just try to relax."

Currently attending ITT in Lathrop, the scholarship money that Little received for his bowling expertise is helping to finance his continuing education.

The larger of the two came from the Modesto Bowling Association, Little receiving a 'Hall of Fame' scholarship worth $1,500 over two years. He also was awarded a $150 scholarship from the NorCal Young American Bowling Alliance and has been invited to attend the 37th annual All-Star Banquet and Awards Ceremony on Aug. 21 in Livermore.

Little said in his early days, he was lucky to achieve a '60' average.

"I got a coach and that helped a lot," he said.

Little worked with coach Tommy Lee in Modesto and that, combined with his persistence, led to the steady improvement in Little's game.

And even though he has achieved the perfect game more than once, Little said he likes bowling simply for the fun of it.

"I'll probably just do it as a hobby," he said.