Bowling opens lanes — and doors — for Cabot senior

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published May 9, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 7, 2013 at 3:45 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Shelby Smith has been bowling for much of her life. Her work has led to success, including bowling a state-best 648 to help the Cabot Panthers capture a Class 7A title. Smith will continue her bowling career on the next level, as she has signed with Louisiana Tech University.

— Shelby Smith, who started bowling when she was 7 years old, is now reaping the benefits of her dedication to the sport as one of the state’s top bowlers.

Smith, who recently signed with Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., to bowl at the collegiate level, has worked hard to get where she is today.

Aside from bowling all four years of high school at Cabot, Smith has bowled with the Arkansas Scratch Junior Bowlers Tour for three years.

“I get to travel to Fayetteville, Conway and Maumelle,” Smith said. “We bowl five games and cut it down to the top 16 bowlers, and those are cut down, and we’re matched up.”

Smith said that as a youth bowler, she receives scholarship money when she wins a tournament.

Smith has been at the top of the Arkansas Scratch Junior Bowlers Tour for two years.

“I play against all boys, so I’m pretty proud of [winning] that,” Smith said.

Smith’s parents have supported her throughout her journey as a high school and tournament bowler.

“I’ll be bowling, and my dad will yell, ‘Atta girl!’ and that gets in the boys’ heads, and they think, ‘I can’t let this girl beat me,’” Smith said.

She’s won countless titles in the state and helped lead her high school’s bowling team to victory. For the 2012-2013 school year, she helped bring the Cabot Panthers girls bowling team to the top spot for Class 7A/6A schools and was named the top bowler in the 7A/6A girls individual category.

“Bowling doesn’t get a lot of recognition,” Smith said. “A lot of people don’t think [bowling] is a sport or take it seriously, but I do.”

Smith is looking forward to embarking on her new journey as a collegiate bowler.

“I’m excited to meet more people and get to experience it,” Smith said.

Mike Nash, bowling coach for Cabot High School, said he is proud of Smith for her accomplishments in becoming a collegiate bowler.

“She’s our first student to go to school on a bowling scholarship,” Nash said. “Shelby is the best high school female bowler that the state’s produced.”

Nash said although he’s sad to see Smith go, he’s excited for her to bowl at Louisiana Tech.

“As long as she goes to class, I’m excited for her,” Nash said.

Smith plans on majoring in accounting at Louisiana Tech, she said.

Ralph Pridmore, assistant coach of the Cabot High School bowling team, said he has seen Smith transform into an excellent bowler.

“It took a lot of hard work for her, but that was her goal going into the ninth grade,” Pridmore said. “In the 4 1/2 years that I’ve worked with her, I’ve see her growth as a bowler. It’s more than throwing the ball down the lane.”

Pridmore said Smith knew it would take hard work to get to the place she’s in today.

“Everybody wants to win, but not everybody is willing to work to win like Shelby,” Pridmore said.

Determination and willpower have helped Smith along the way, Pridmore said.

“Some people get discouraged with failure, but she uses it as motivation,” Pridmore said. “She’s put in an ungodly amount of hours practicing.”

Smith’s motivation to do well all these years is something that Pridmore admires.

“It’s nice to see people like Shelby achieve what they’ve worked for,” Pridmore said. “Now her dream is a reality.”

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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