Schlee is first Bulldog to earn bowling scholarship

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MFL MarMac senior Austin Schlee—pictured with his family and coach Gregg Haden—last week signed a letter of intent to bowl at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. He is the first student in MFL MarMac history to receive a bowling scholarship. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

MFL MarMac senior Austin Schlee last week signed a letter of intent to bowl at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. He is the first student in MFL MarMac history to receive a bowling scholarship.

 

“This is the biggest time of my life. I’m proud everyone could be here,” said Schlee.

 

Inspired by his parents, Schlee has been bowling for fun, and later in leagues, for roughly 12 years. He started in Elkader, then later bowled in Postville when the Elkader alley closed. When Postville also closed, Schlee moved to Leisure Time Sports Bar and Bowl in Prairie du Chien, Wis.

 

Schlee currently averages a 180 score, or 540 to 580 over a three-game series.

 

“I continue to have a consistent average,” he said. “I’ve just held the passion for the sport.”

 

Schlee learned bowling could be an opportunity post-high school thanks to family friend Nick Sylvester, who Schlee called his bowling role model.

 

“He bowled for many years and bowled with Iowa Central for two years, and majored in criminal justice. He told me everything for the bowling alley and what they do for a bowling scholarship and what they do for the sport,” Schlee explained.

 

Since MFL MarMac doesn’t offer bowling as a sport, Schlee had to demonstrate his skills at an Iowa Central practice.

 

“I don’t know if it was much convincing,” he acknowledged. “I just told them, if there’s a time I can come and practice with the men’s team in Fort Dodge, I’d love to show them what I can do, what I’m willing to learn. That’s the biggest way I persuaded them I’m able to bowl on the bowling team.”

 

A recommendation from Sylvester also helped.

 

“He said, ‘Hey, coach, you need to talk to this young man. He’s good, he’s a good kid and he’ll fit right in with your program,’” recalled Iowa Central bowling coach Gregg Haden, who was on hand at last week’s signing.

 

Haden was pleasantly surprised, and felt Schlee was good enough to not only join the team, but receive a scholarship.

 

Joining Iowa Central is an honor. The men’s team hasn’t finished below fourth place in the national tournament in the past 12 years, according to Haden. Iowa Central has won two men’s national championships (and two women’s championships) in that span and been runner-up seven times.

 

“There is going to be some great expectations for Austin so we can continue,” Haden said. “He’s joining a very good team and we can’t wait to get him going there.”

 

Schlee said the bowling season runs much of the year. He’s looking forward to the opportunity to bowl more often.

 

“I would love to be able to bowl and practice every single day. I try and practice as much as I can and get as many throws as I can in,” he shared.

 

While at Iowa Central, Schlee plans to major in electrical technologies. He wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, who currently works for Kregel Electric but has been in the electrical business for years.

 

“I’ve found the biggest passion with electricity, having to wire stuff up, wiring homes, any buildings,” Schlee said.

 

Haden hopes Schlee is an example for other students to pursue the activities they’re passionate about, even if the school doesn’t offer them. Find opportunities elsewhere.

 

“I know this school does not have bowling as a sport, however, Austin obviously loves to bowl and found a way to make it work for him,” Haden said. “If you put your heart, soul and mind to something, you can make anything happen. Go find it.”

 

“There is no reason for you to stop because your school doesn’t have it,” Schlee added. “You just have to reach out there, have the courage.”

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