The Alien Hybrid Lefty - Shannon Pluhowsky
By Tina Marie Caouette
I have concluded that all great left-handed bowlers are Hybrid Alien offspring. Now, I haven't conducted an inclusive survey of every lefty one the planet, but my little alien friends have confirmed my suspicions. So whenever I get a chance to corner one of our sport's great lefties, I have to ask...Have you ever been abducted by alien? Nah, just kidding, but now that you've read the first paragraph you might as well continue to the end as there just might be a surprise hidden in the text.
Since I returned to the sport just over a year ago, I've had numerous bowlers compare my bowling style to that of Shannon Pluhowsky. I was, to say the least, flattered to even be mentioned in the same breath as her. Although I strongly feel that comparison is over-rated, we do share one similar trait; we are both southpaws. As a lefty, the first question I had to ask is one I've dealt with my whole life. Shannon, how do you handle all those who roll their eyes once they know you are a bowling on the easy side of the lane? Let me rephrase that. What do you say when someone condemns your performance on the lanes as nothing more than being left handed? "I usually just take it and say okay. You know it is what it is." Wait that's my line! With a soft smile she continued, "People who understand bowling know that's not the case. When they're hard, they're hard all day. When they're easy, yah they might be easy all day." I so wanted to high five her right there and then. She finished with this, "Yeah, but you still have to make shots, make spares and try to stay close to the leader. Some days it is, some days it isn't." Okay, so we do have that in common as well.
This was the first of many Team USA members I got to interview so I wanted to get her insight on the whole experience. "It's definitely different, but you get to bowl with some of your best friends as well as some of the greatest women bowlers." Shannon continued, "Women like Kelly Kulick, Liz Johnson, Shannon O'Keefe, Stefanie Nation as well as Linda Barnes, Wendy Macpherson, and Leanna Hulsenberg. It's just a lot of fun. And to see the up and coming talent like Daniel McEwan, Brittni Hamilton, and Josie Earnest." Now what about the traveling, more specifically overseas. I was looking for a story I could share with my readers and this is what she said, "Traveling is a unique experiences because you don't know what you're going to get." Can you elaborate on that I asked. "Some countries are more laid back then we are," Shannon continued, "So you know the bus schedule may say noon and they may come at two. And you just hang out until they get there." Well how does the traveling effect you specifically? With a reserved smile she responded, "I'm a pretty picky eater so food is always an experience for me. Luckily, I've been able to find McDonalds on most trips. So I can at least function on McDonalds for a week or so.” Did you hear that McDonalds? You now have a new spokes person for your company; step up and show this young lady a contract or at the very least kick her a few apple pies.
So Shannon you are going to be in Vegas for the WTBA World Championships the end of August. Do you and the team have any specific plans? I mean it is Vegas, baby! She had the slightest hint of a smile as she answered but I could sense a wild side just waiting to be unleashed. "We actually have a couple of days off in between. Like we bowl and have a day off then bowl and have a day off. Right now, we don't have plans. I would assume on the off days we’d watch the boys and hang out as a team. I mean its Vegas. There's always stuff going on." So locals be on the lookout for Team USA as they party, sorry I mean bowl. Heck its Vegas, party their way through the next couple of weeks. Remember Shannon what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas unless I'm around then it will be posted on Bowlers Paradigm the next day. Just saying!
All kidding aside, I've watched numerous videos of Shannon bowling in an assortment of tournaments. She has the same demeanor whether it's a 300 or 160 game, as well as on and of the lanes. Does that remind you of anyone else, anybody, anybody, Bueller! So, how does Shannon in her career always remain so calm when the game is on the line? Pay close attention boys and girls this is a great tip. "Make the best possible shot you can. You know the shots aren't any different just because you have a chance to win at that moment. So it's all about just doing the same thing you've done for years. Take a deep breath and make the best shot you can. Once it leaves your hand if it strikes it strikes if it doesn’t, there's nothing you can do. You threw it good. That's where you have to rely on your instincts and everything you've done your entire career." Okay did everyone get that, as there will be a quiz on it later. Go get your number two pencils. Seriously go get them I'll wait. I'm waiting. Yeah, that means you sitting at your desk reading this, chop chop!
I constantly try to see if I can get information from my victim, sorry interviewee, which no one else has gotten. Since water boarding is no longer legal and I've lost my contact inside of the NSA, hope you're enjoying Russia, Edward, I'll have to go old school. In my most threatening tone of voice and malevolence looking grimace, I started the interrogation. Do you have any tattoos? She didn't flinch, "I don't have any tattoos." Damn that didn't work. Okay how about the direct approach. Boring, but it will have to do. Shannon, I asked, give me something not a soul might know about you. A dark and deep secret maybe! She smiled; come to think of it, she smiled throughout the entire interview. I need to work on my intimidating manner. Anyway, this is what she shared. "A lot of people don't know I majored in childhood development. Obviously, bowlers know that I love kids and like to be around kids. Other than that I don't know..." I was about ready to move on when she popped this bombshell on me. "I'm a very picky eater. Chicken fingers and fries, probably pizza anything a child would eat is probably what I would eat." Then of all things, she dropped this at the last second. "I like video games." I knew it! It took me a few shots of sodium thiopental, but I got the dirt, although I think I was suppose to give her the shot. Do you see the big elephant hiding in the corner? No! Okay next question...
On your down time, give me one of your favorite television shows. There was no hesitation here, "We just started watching Naked and Afraid. I don't know if anyone knows about it. It's kind of a cool show." Okay as I don't watch TV or even have a cable connection so you might need to explain this one. What a waste of my Sony sixty inch LCD HD TV. She continued, "They take you and put you somewhere in the world and you get one item, a camera to report some stuff and you are naked." Soft porn on TV; this is going to be a hit for sure. "You meet somebody and have to spend twenty-one days surviving in the wild with nothing. It's been a very interesting show to watch." Well, out here in Vegas we just call that a tourist on his/her last night on the strip. All kidding aside, would you do it? "Ah, NO! Cause I wouldn't go or survive twenty-one days without food or water because I don't eat anything that swims. So I would never make it.” Well I'm in, except maybe for that whole naked part, having to meet someone, and TV thing.
There are countless bowlers with jobs to support their bowling habit, I'm one of them. I mean, without a Women's Tour we really can't make a living throwing a bowling ball. I wondered if she wasn't so involved with bowling what would she being doing. "I would probably be working with kids in some capacity," she replied. "I majored in Early Childhood Development so I would probably be doing a daycare, kindergarten, or preschool. Or something like that." I will say seeing her interact all weekend long with the kids at the bowling center I can see that and have no reservations she'd be fantastic at it.
So you watch television, play video games, and have no tattoos. What else does Shannon Pluhowsky do when she isn't in a bowling center? "I'd probably say golf in the summertime other than that I don't really have many hobbies." I keep thinking to myself, what's with everyone that bowls playing golf? What, they don't get frustrated enough playing one sport that involves a ball? Wow, that sodium thiopental is some good stuff. Did that elephant just wink at me? I wink back! Try to stay focused, just a few more questions. So you golf and bowl anything else? "Spend time around the house just relaxing 'cause days I'm not in the bowling center are numbered since I work in a bowling center and bowl. So I spend most of my time in a bowling center." Funny she said that as I too, years ago, spent all my time in a bowling center as a manager so I can relate.
One of the hot topics that most women who bowl can agree on is we need a Women's Tour. Shannon coming up through the college ranks of Nebraska and winning three NCAA titles I wanted her take on would she ever see a Women's Tour in her lifetime? "I would say yes at some point. I don't know what that point is. I don't know if its two years, four years, ten years, but I would assume for bowling to survive for the long haul there needs to be something." I couldn't agree more with that statement. Shannon elaborated, "Will all these kids and all these good college bowlers have nowhere to go? You know it's hard to tell the youth bowlers to keep in the game when there's no future. Once you get past a certain level it's like, okay, now you bowl league and two tournaments a year. So I think at some point there needs to be something to keep young people involved in the sport." Why is it when I talk to bowlers they all agree on this one issue, yet the powers that be can't see the bigger picture, so frustrating.
Unlike the guys who have a senior tour, the women have nothing. Yeah, we can bowl with the guys but that's not the point. At some point, we will all be moving on to a greener pasture, maybe not so green, but we will move on from the competitive side of the sport. I wondered what Shannon would be doing fifteen years from now. "Probably still bowling. Running a bowling center or a daycare I would say." Yeah I can see that as she has the right temperament for the job. She continued, "This December or around Thanksgiving time we are having a baby girl so I will be doing something that she's doing probably years from now." First off, I want to congratulate you Shannon on your new arrival. Let's hope she's a lefty, a bowler and there's a Women's Tour by the time she is old enough to bowl.
So the question that you all have been waiting for since the opening title. Does Shannon Pluhowsky believe in aliens? At this point, the Jeopardy Theme started to play in the background, eerie. "Guess I really never thought about it. I don't know. I don't know what I would say." Apparently, the whole abduction thing is a blur and she's trying to cope with the installed amnesia chip in her head. Give her a little bit it will all come back. If aliens were real, wink, wink, would you allow them to take your DNA to make an Alien Hybrid Lefty? "SURE! Super bowlers." There you go folks an exclusive brought to by Tina Marie Caouette. Shannon Pluhowsky has helped create a super species of lefty bowlers. I knew I wasn't alone! File that under Operation 7 Pin.
Seriously, doing an interview with her was not only interesting, but also fun. She is by all aspects of the word a true Professional! As I missed Team Trials in January this year and have plans to try in January of 2014, I wanted her insight on the trials as well as what it takes to compete at that level. With no hesitation, she gave me some great insight. "SPARES! You know watching the US Open last week. If anyone watched that, spares were a big deal. The lanes were hard; it was very difficult to throw doubles and triples. So to give away pins missing spares just hurts your chances." I couldn't agree with you more, as my old coach used to say to me...Strikes make the show, but spares make the dough.
One final thought on this whole interview. As much of this article is tongue and cheek as well as me just being, well me, I am honestly grateful of the time Shannon shared. I can only hope someday I make Team USA and get the chance to cross the lanes with this Alien Hybrid Lefty. Got you again...please refer to paragraph number one, line five and six. Tina over, out and abducted. There goes more DNA for the cause. Follow Shannon on Facebook by clicking here
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