BY ALFONSO BARBER/ FAMU Sports Information intern
Keondra Eaton rolled her way to the top individual bowler at the Mardi Gras Challenge in Baton Rouge earlier this month, as well as the MEAC Bowler of the Week last week. But before congratulating her, realize that these two accomplishments simply hope to find their way to her resume which is as long as the lanes she reigns.
Eaton was highly sought after by several top collegiate bowling programs out of high school, averaging 206.4 pins in her first collegiate tournament, and bowled an “Eagle” (the hardest spare in bowling, getting the No.7 and No.10 pins) at around fifteen years old making her the youngest to do it in Baton Rouge.
Her coach and mentor, FAMU head bowling coach Karen Brown, happily mentioned that The Eagle is the highest award that one can achieve in bowling, and that few people can say that they have.
How is it that this phenomenal bowler came to fruition? Let's take a trip down memory lane.
Eaton began bowling at the age of five and has a grandmother that is 84 years old and still bowls to this day. While relative, her skill in the alley goes further than a bloodline, and closer to downright dedication. When asked about her work ethic, Brown mentioned just how relentless her student-athlete is about her passion.
“When I check my sign-up book, this kid is always putting in reps. It’s amazing to see a student come out and practice when there is no practice, she’s just constantly working on her craft, which is very impressive to any coach.”
Brown continued to speak to the discipline of Eaton, but also something else she deemed important, her relationship with her teammates. However, this is when team captain Demetria Bethel felt it was her chance to add some things of her own on the topic.
“Honestly Keondra’s such a down to earth, lovely, kind, young lady. She’s my travel roommate now, and with our birthday being one day apart, we just kind of understand each other as people. She’s a good teammate, a good friend, and a good daughter,” Bethel said.
Humble is yet another characteristic to add to her list. During the interview her accomplishments flowed easily from her coach and teammates, but rarely from Eaton herself. If Bethel has anything to say about it, that’s right in line with how she approaches the game. When asked about what type of performance she anticipates from Eaton in their upcoming TNBA HBCU Invitational Tournament, she said; “I expect her to do amazing as always, but the way she bowls is not always about her, it’s about the team because she wants the team to do well.” Both Brown and her players agreed that knowing when to talk to someone when bowling can be a bit difficult, especially when anger comes into play. But because of the understanding that Eaton and her teammates hold, it has aided them in learning each other’s patience in a short amount of time.
Naturally, Eaton’s most memorable moment is from an event that wasn’t really about her. While attending the Luci Bonneau Memorial Bowling Tournament for her sister, Eaton encountered what made her truly feel like a true bowler. She said, “I went to support her and just watch, but a pro bowler that I’d met at Junior Gold an entire year earlier called me by my name. It was then that I was like, if they know who I am, how I bowl and my capabilities, that’s all I need.”
The next time you can catch Keondra in action is in the TNBA Tournament which will be held March 15-17th in D'iberville, Mississippi.