Burlingham a college bowler

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2012

By Ryan Bisesi
SALISBURY — Drake Burlingham answers the question every time with a smile.
When interested parties ask what his post high-school plans are, the answer brings up another inquiry.
“The first thing out of their mouth is ‘oh, they have scholarships for bowling?’” Burlingham said.
They do, and because of it, Burlingham is going to take his talents to Martin Methodist College, a NAIA school in Pulaski, TN. Burlingham has worked the tournament circuits for the past two years and received professional instruction to help him reach his aspirations and claim a love for the game he discovered not long ago.
“Whenever I got strikes I just kept going with it and it turned into a passion,” Burlingham said.
Those strikes come often these days. Burlingham got four consecutive strikes to end his practice frame Thursday at Woodleaf Lanes in Salisbury, a place where he bowls up to five times a week. Burlingham, a recent Carson grad, is part of a bowling culture at Woodleaf that includes standouts such as Salisbury grad and Winston-Salem State signee Brittany Milby and Hornet sophomore Jay Hargrove, who recently bowled a 300.
His freshman year, Burlingham helped start a high school league with friends. Burlingham said he wasn’t very good at first but kept at it. It “kept going and going” and he became acquainted with getting a strike. Knocking down all the pins gave the Salisbury resident a rush that he’d been looking for. That’s when he decided to pursue it seriously.
“It’s a adrenaline rush,” he said. “It’s like winning the lottery for me when I get a strike.”
In two years, Burlingham increased his game from a 175 average to about a 210. He got there through the help of instructor Leon Lamm of The Right Approach Training Academy. Burlingham meets with Lamm, who has about 17 students who bowl in college, once a week.
“The greatest thing about bowling is being able to get scholarship money,” Lamm said. “He has a great opportunity ahead of him.”
Lamm says the mental aspect of the game is the most challenging facet to young bowlers such as Burlingham.
“Most kids want everything right now,” Lamm said. “It’s okay if you don’t strike. Make your spares.”
Burlingham amassed about $10,000 through the U. S. Bowling Congress’ Smart Program to help pay for college. He plans to major in criminal justice. For now, spreading the word about the opportunities bowling can provide is high on the agenda.
“Not a lot of people know about [bowling scholarships],” Burlingham said. “I’d like for that to change.”
College bowling teams carry eight on the roster and five travel with the squad.
“If I don’t make it, it’ll be okay, I’ll just do it next year,” Burlingham said. “I’m confident in myself.”