August 27, 2011

Cherokee pro bowler

Talking with Bowler Mike Edwards, the Lone American Indian to Win a PBA Tour Title

By Brian DaffronMike Edwards is part of a small club whose members include Notah Begay, Sam Bradford, Joba Chamberlain and Tahnee Robinson—Native Americans currently involved in professional sports.

Edwards, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation who is also of Chickasaw and Choctaw descent, has been an active participant in the Professional Bowlers Association tour since 1981. Residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he grew up around the sport, watching his parents play in league games.

“I would just tag along,” Edwards said. “It was something for me to do. I wanted to try it. I played other sports growing up, but bowling was pretty natural for me. I was a natural athlete to start with—I had pretty good hand and eye coordination. It was just a natural talent that I had. I got better with age and technique.”

As he grew into the sport, Edwards started hanging around higher average leagues and players, himself averaging 200-215 at age 10-11. In his teens, he grew away from bowling to pursue baseball and football. Around age 19, Edwards picked up the bowling ball again, playing in leagues around Tulsa and outside of Oklahoma.

“It’s sort of a long transition,” Edwards said about his rise to the professional ranks. “I only dreamed about bowling on tour. I used to watch it on Saturday afternoons. Just until you get to a certain point, talent wise, you’re really not sure how good you are.”

Since beginning professional bowling, Edwards is the only Native American to win a PBA Tour title and also holds six PBA Regional titles. But to Edwards, these alone are not the greatest achievements. Instead, Edwards said that his ability to stay in the sport for over two decades is a greater accomplishment.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Cherokee Nation Bowling Teams.

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