Spotlight: IC native set to compete in the U.S. Open bowling


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Phil Schintler holds his bowling ball close enough that it touches his face. Dressed in a black Iowa polo and black jeans, the man slowly winds up and releases the ball. The black-and-gold-flaked ball slowly begins its rotation, spinning down the lane toward the pins, while Schintler holds his release, his arm extended outwards.

He has been an avid bowler since first partaking in league play in 1974. The 45-year-old sergeant with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office was originally drawn to the sport while watching the Professional Bowlers Tour on TV on Saturday mornings.

Now, after battling back from numerous injuries, he is faced with a tremendous opportunity — a chance to compete in the U.S. Open on the Professional Bowlers Tour in New Brunswick, N.J., today through Feb. 27.

Schintler also competed in the 2004 Masters, the only other tournament besides the U.S. Open that allows amateurs to qualify, but in 2005 he had his entire shoulder replaced because of a non-malignant tumor.

He figures his shoulder injury happened from bowling close to 50,000 games in his lifetime. During his college bowling career at Iowa from 1984-1987, he bowled upwards of 125 games per week.

His mindset never changed after the injury and throughout physical therapy.

“[Phil] wanted to get [his shoulder] fixed right away, and he was determined to do all he had to do,” Schintler’s wife, Michele, said. “I’m just really proud of him.”

Now, he is in the midst of a career year in bowling, and he averages more than 225 in two separate leagues.

“You just never accept where you’re at and be satisfied with it, because once you do that, anything you do beyond that is luck,” Schintler said. “You always try to better yourself because someone else is always out there waiting for you.”

In addition to competing in bowling, he is taking online classes through Grand Canyon University, a Division-III Christian school in Arizona to obtain a master’s in education.

After retiring from the Sheriff’s Office, Schintler will use the degree to teach government and social studies at the high-school level, where he also wants to coach baseball and wrestling.

Since 1999, Schintler has coached in Colonial Lanes’ youth bowling league on Saturday mornings, and he also coached the City High Little Hawk bowling team from 2002-07.

“It’s good where you can coach a sport where size doesn’t matter as far as when you bowl,” he said. “Now that Iowa has bowling as a high-school sport, we have the majority of the high-school bowlers here on Saturday mornings.”

The U.S. Open atmosphere is sure to be different from the quiet confines he experiences in the early morning hours at Colonial Lanes.

A total of 500 men will arrive, but the field will be trimmed to 64 after qualifying rounds.

“[Phil] is going up against the best bowlers in the world, and that’s an exciting thing,” said Schintler’s coach, Alan Zaback. “My goal is for myself when working with Phil is to giving him positive affirmations, be relaxed … “Staying focused and having fun with it are important keys to him to have a chance.”

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