Bundamba teenager has a striking future
HE may not be your typical teenager, but Jordan Harrold cuts a striking figure when he steps to the top of the bowling lane.
What started as a simple favour to his grandfather soon blossomed into a passion that has the 13 year-old earmarked for a bright future in the sport.
Originally a tennis player, the Bundamba State Secondary College student filled in as a substitute for his grandfather's social tenpin team three years ago and never looked back.
Now touted as one of the top young talents in the state, Jordan will travel to Frankston in Victoria next year following his recent selection to the South Queensland President's Shield Development squad.
Jordan's mum Joanne said her son took to the sport like a duck to water, and tennis quickly became an afterthought.
"He just found a love for it,” she said.
"This is his sole sporting focus, he was sick a couple of weeks ago and it killed him not to go bowling.”
Six months after his substitute appearance, Jordan was entering bowling league competitions on a regular basis, and learning the intricacies of the sport.
He travels to Logan at least twice a week for training. That in itself would put strain on most parents, but it is in attending the plethora of bowling competitions where the family clocks up the most miles.
"Last year he finished third overall in a coast- to-coast competition,” Joanne said.
"They travel from Lismore to Caboolture, and have around 8-10 stops a year.
"It's a lot of driving, but we wouldn't sub it for the world, it's the best thing known to man.
"We're aiming to help Jordan go as far as he can.”
"As far as he can” would mean making an Australian team, and competing overseas on the Professional Bowlers Association tour.
One person who knows better than most about what it takes is Jordan's coach Leonard Bailey.
In just four months, the 10-year coaching veteran has already seen enough to tap Jordan for a bright future in the sport.
"I know what's involved for kids to be at that kind of level, and it's amazing what he has achieved in such a short time,” the North Queensland President's Shield coach said.
"For his age, he's pretty good.
"For some it can take weeks or months to understand the process of what's asked of them, but he takes on everything I say easily. There's no hesitation.
"When I first started with him he was a bit inconsistent with his scores, but he's fixed that and his average is up by about 20 pins.”
While most use two or more balls to accommodate for varying surfaces and pin-placements, Jordan has so far competed with just one.
His average has improved to ~170 since training with Bailey, taken from the most recent 30 games.
Jordan's goal this year was to crack the seven-man South Queensland President's Shield team. He came within three pins of making that a reality.
The Ipswich teenager had to settle for a place on the development squad.
Against older and more experienced opponents, it was always going to be difficult. To have come so close, Bailey said, positions Jordan as a likely prospect for next year's team.
"To make a President's Shield team is the biggest thing right now, that's what you're chasing and it's a stepping stone to the Australian team,” said Bailey, whose daughter will represent Australia for the third time next year.
"His first goal when I took him on was to make that team. For his young age, from where he started to where he is now he's on the path to becoming one of the best juniors (in Queensland).”
A handful of young Australians have attempted to crack the PBA tour in recent years, starting out on scholarships at US Colleges and completing a degree whilst bowling at the collegiate level.
Bailey sees a similar path for Jordan, should he continue in his growth.
"Most people who bowl socially throw a ball down and don't worry about it,” Bailey said.
"For these kids, it's their life. It's addictive, and there's a science to it that not a lot of people understand.”
Despite not making the seven-man roster, Jordan will travel with the SQ team to Frankston next year as an emergency.