Tragedy leads to rare bowling feat

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After some time away, Johnson found the courage to return to the bowling alley to pick up a ball and throw it down the lane - this time as a left-handed bowler.

That isn’t an easy task for the average bowler.

But Johnson isn’t an average bowler.

As a left-hander, he still makes bowling look easy. He just isn’t as consistent as before. He said he isn’t ambidextrous, but bowling from the left side feels natural.

“It was something I did as a kid. I would goof around and throw left handed with my stepdad and stepbrothers,” Johnson said. “It was something that came natural to me as far as being able to throw left handed.”

While not as good from his new side, Johnson is still averaging in the 180s and can score with the best from time to time.

As a right-hander, anything less than perfect was a disappointment to Johnson. The pressure he put on himself is gone on the opposite side.

“I didn’t have any expectations on how I was going to bowl. I knew I wasn’t going to be as good as I was right-handed,” Johnson said. “But when I started bowling left-handed, I had more fun. I enjoyed it more.

On Feb. 19, exactly 14 months after the accident, Johnson made history at Greenville Lanes.

He became the first Greenville bowler to roll a 300 from both the right and left sides. He was perfect in his third and final game of the night during the Wednesday Fun league.

The exact number of bowlers who have accomplished this feat is not known, as the United States Bowling Congress does not require its sanction bowlers to declare which hand they bowl with.

According to the USBC, the first male to do so was Neil Bayes of St. Louis, who rolled a right-handed 300 on Dec. 5, 1963. More than seven years later on June 20, 1970, Bayes rolled a left-handed 300. The first female to do so was Lesley Boczar of Sunrise, Fla. She rolled a right-handed 300 on May 5, 1997 and left-handed 300 on July 22, 2003.

“It’s special to have done this,” Johnson said. “It means a lot to do this with both hands. This isn’t something that happens often.”

Johnson’s previous left-handed high game was 279. That was during practice. His league high game was 255.

On that Wednesday, the strikes just started falling for Johnson. As the scoreboard Xs increased so did the awareness of those around and the uneasiness of Johnson.

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