Kamron Doyle is one of the most coveted high school athletic recruits in the country.
If Doyle’s sport was football, Alabama’s Nick Saban, Tennessee’s Butch Jones and all of the nation’s top football coaches would be lined up outside his Brentwood home.
If Doyle’s sport was basketball, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings and all of the nation’s top basketball coaches would be making a full-court press to recruit him.
His sport is bowling, a sport that gets very little national attention and television coverage.
Doyle recently became the youngest bowler ever to win the Team USA Trials, a United States Bowling Congress tournament in Las Vegas, where he beat the nation’s best amateurs and professionals. He was 16 when he won the tournament; he turned 17 last week.
The victory proved again why he’s one of the nation’s top teen athletes.
“There are a lot of schools who want me to come for a visit and take a look,” Doyle said recently, sitting on a sofa in the basement of his parents’ home. A few feet away are two regulation bowling lanes his parents had built in their home.
He’s planning a visit to Wichita State soon. McKendree (Illinois) University also is on his radar. Both have bowling programs that are among the country’s best.
A junior at Brentwood High, he still has a year to decide where he’ll go to college. Until then, he’ll continue bowling with his high school team. And, oh, yeah, bowl in tournaments across the world against the world’s best.
He started bowling when he was 6. Invited to a friend’s birthday party at a bowling center, he took to the sport quickly. It wasn’t long before he was begging his parents to take him back to the bowling center. A hobby quickly became a passion.
Before they knew it, Cathy and Sean Doyle were spending many nights and weekends in bowling centers while watching their young son develop into one of the nation’s best. When the Doyles considered building a new home, it was Kamron who suggested putting the lanes in the basement. It was Mom and Dad who realized that the home lanes would provide far less running to and from bowling centers.
There are some who would say that Doyle has an advantage over other up-and-coming bowlers because he has his own bowling lanes.
That’s simply not true. The lanes are a convenience. Nothing more. Do children with swimming pools in their backyards have an advantage at becoming the next Michael Phelps? Of course not.
Doyle has a natural talent. It’s amazing when you consider neither his mother nor his father are bowlers. Kamron has taught himself how to bowl, from watching the Pro Bowlers Association on television and YouTube to hours and hours of practice.
He had a coach for a couple of years, but he admits that he didn’t like having others tell him what to do on the bowling lanes. And why not? What he’s learned by himself is definitely working.
As his body has grown, he has had to continually reteach himself the sport. At the age of 12, he appeared on ESPN2’s “First Take” after bowling in his first Pro Bowlers Association event. He won $400 in that tournament.
“His body has grown a foot and a half since” then, his mother said.
Doyle said his growth “messes up coordination, arm swing, foot work, your balance, everything.”
He will travel to Green Bay, Wis., next weekend to compete in the USBC’s Masters, regarded as the sport’s most prestigious event. He probably will add to the $80,000-plus that he has won at USBC- and PBA-sponsored events. That money has been put into a scholarship fund that can be used toward college.
“He’s a goof off the lanes,” said friend and Junior Team USA member Matt Farber. “On the lanes, he’s serious and very competitive.”
Doyle says he gets into a zone after lacing up his bowling shoes. He doesn’t like to talk to his competitors. He prefers to concentrate on the pins and not much else.
After the event, Doyle will return to school in Brentwood. He will participate in a few regional tournaments in the spring. His schedule will get busy this summer, when he attends Team USA camp in Arlington, Texas. Then he’ll travel to various national and international competitions, including the World Cup.
The recent win at the USA Trials earned him the berth to the World Cup, where he will compete against bowlers from across the world. The site of the tournament has not been decided. Australia is one option. That option excites Doyle.
“I like traveling for the tournaments,” he said. “I enjoy seeing the world.”
After the busy summer, it will be back to Brentwood High and time to make the final decision on college.
Reach Dave Ammenheuser at 615-259-8352 and on Twitter @NashSportsEd.
KAMRON DOYLE: 5 THINGS TO KNOW
• Born Jan. 13, 1998; lives in Brentwood
• At 16, youngest bowler to win the USA Team Trials
• At 14, youngest bowler to win money at a PBA major event
• At 12, youngest bowler ever to win money in a PBA event
• At 11, youngest bowler ever to bowl 800 in a three-game series