Stevens Grad Is a Real Alley Cat

Fitzpatrick Plans a Bowling Management Future

  • The potential for a bowling management degree — not to mention competing at the collegiate level — is sending Claremont’s Shawn Fitzpatrick to an Indiana university. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    The potential for a bowling management degree — not to mention competing at the collegiate level — is sending Claremont’s Shawn Fitzpatrick to an Indiana university. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Claremont’s Shawn Fitzpatrick was one of the top bowlers in the state during last winter’s NHIAA season. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Claremont’s Shawn Fitzpatrick was one of the top bowlers in the state during last winter’s NHIAA season. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • The potential for a bowling management degree — not to mention competing at the collegiate level — is sending Claremont’s Shawn Fitzpatrick to an Indiana university. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Claremont’s Shawn Fitzpatrick was one of the top bowlers in the state during last winter’s NHIAA season. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

Claremont — Shawn Fitzpatrick is like a lot of 18-year-olds. He has dreams he wants to chase and goals he would like to accomplish.

Where Fitzpatrick differs from his peers is the dreams and goals he would like to reach are in a field few others have chosen. Fitzpatrick would like to spend his adult years bowling for dollars.

While this may seem a bit far-fetched, anyone who has spent any time with this recent Stevens High graduate can tell he is a driven, confident young man who exudes self-confidence.

And remember, Fitzpatrick didn’t take up the sport of bowling until his freshmen year at Stevens. By the time he graduated, he was the No. 2 bowler in New Hampshire’s Division I, carrying a 220 average.

They call him “Ditto” because he and his father share the same name.

“He’s not a senior, and I’m not a junior,” explained Ditto.

They also share the same passion for bowling — the elder Fitzpatrick is the manager of Maple Lanes in Claremont. So one would have thought that Ditto would have taken up the sport before he got to high school.

But he didn’t. Growing up in New Jersey, Fitzpatrick spent most of his youth snowboarding. And not just snowboarding for the fun of it: As a 13-year-old, he placed eighth in the nationals in Lake Tahoe, Calif.

But he started struggling in snowboarding, so he moved on to his family sport. Not only does his father run Maple Lanes, but he also is a bowler of some repute — rolling 16 perfect games of 300 — while his mom, a nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, has two of her own.

Having the good genes helped Fitzpatrick in his athletic pursuits. Having good grades helped with the academics. Looking to marry his sport with his future, Fitzpatrick is headed to Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind., to pursue a bowling management major.

Next month, Fitzpatrick will get into his Ford Focus and drive to Vincennes — a town of 19,000 across the Wabash River from Illinois — to start taking courses in business management along with bowling management.

It’s a 17-hour trip to school, one Fitzpatrick made when he met bowling coach Gary Peters. The coach was impressed enough to tell Fitzpatrick he can probably make the team, which bowls around the country from September to April. Fitzpatrick says not only is there an 18-lane bowling facility on campus, but another bowling house of 18 lanes in the town of Vincennes.

For the next few weeks, Fitzpatrick will work for his father at Maple Lanes and practice as much as he can, “at least two or three days a week,” he said. Fitzpatrick knows he has to keep practicing and is not bashful about setting his sights on national titles as an individual and with Vincennes, which is a two-year junior college.

“I really want to succeed at this sport,” said Fitzpatrick, who would like to continue his education after Vergennes at Kansas’ Wichita State University, which he calls the “best college for bowling in the country.”

While the bowling season lasts the entire school year, the matches are played around once a month, with practices two or three days a week. Fitzpatrick eyes lit up when he said one of the stops will be in a Las Vegas at bowling house with 75 lanes. “It’s hard to imagine that,” he said.

Another of Fitzpatrick’s dreams includes competing in the Professional Bowling Association.

“I know it’s a stretch, and I would have to be good enough to get some sponsors,” he said, to cover the $2,500 entry fee for PBA events.

But first things first. That long climb to reach his dreams and accomplish his goals begins for Fitzpatrick in western Indiana.

Vincennes is a school with 2,000 on-campus students in a town Fitzpatrick said is smaller than Claremont: “It’s just flat, flat, flat.”

Still, Fitzpatrick is excited about living in a coed sports dorm. But best of all, the town of Vincennes has a Buffalo Wild Wings. “It’s my favorite place to eat,” he said.