EVANSVILLE - After an arm injury suffered in baseball his eighth grade year, Princeton resident Keaton Green was looking for something to occupy his time with.
Little did he know, the first thing he picked up would change his life forever.
Green picked up a bowling ball, and the rest his history.
"I started because I hurt my elbow in baseball, and wanted to pick something up in the winter to do," he said. "And it was just for fun at first, and then it became more serious, and I figured out I had pretty good talent for it."
Starting out, Green was bowling games with averages in the 130s, just doing something to kill time. Now, the Princeton Community High School senior is coming off a 16th-place finish at the state finals, and hoping bowling will continue to be a part of his everyday life for years to come.
After a couple of years of bowling for leisure, Green got hooked up with his first coach, Jeff Curly of Evansville, and started taking things more seriously.
"Bowling was just kind of a thing for fun, and then I met this coach Jeff Curly, from Evansville, and when I went to him for lessons," he said. "I had this competitive mindset, where I wanted to be good at something from the start."
Green started to compete individually, getting active in the local circuits, and competing annually at the Junior Golds.
Before his sophomore year, Green began to lay out the foundation for the current Princeton High team. And with the help of his mom, formed the team, allowing him to be able to compete in the state tournament.
During his sophomore and junior seasons, Green advanced to the regional, but this season quickly became different. In 2018, Green, twice overcame obstacles, on his way to making history.
"Before the sectional, I had actually fallen down stairs and hurt my back," he said.
Over 1300 kids started out in the sectional, and Green skimmed by to the regional with a 10th-place finish.
Once healthier, Green began to improve his game ball-by-ball, taking fourth at the regional at Evansville's Franklin Lanes.
At the semi-state, he started off the qualifying rounds in the worst possible way with a score of 166.
Green was certainly down, but definitely not out.
"At semi-state, three games of qualifying he started with a 166," Princeton coach Nick Austin said. "And two years ago, in a big high-pressure situation if he starts out that poorly his day is probably is going to be over at that point, but not only did he rebound this year to get himself in the top-12 for state, but he bowled the highest game out of anybody in his last game of qualifying."
The senior bowled a 257 in his final round of semi-state, bringing his three-game average to 661, and cementing a third-place finish and trip to the state finals. At state, Green finished 16th out of 24 competitors at Championship Lanes in Anderson.
With his high school career now behind him, Green isn't ready to put down the ball.
His hopes and aspirations are to continue at the next level.
"I have a couple colleges considering me, I haven't made my decision yet as to where I'm going to go," he said.
Many colleges are offering money, but if he chooses a different route, bowling will always be an option at some level for both competition and pleasure.
"The sky is the limit for him right now," Austin said "He says he wants to be on staff for a ball company, and that will happen."
Green has already bowled three perfect games, despite none of them being in a sanctioned event, and continues to raise his average. It currently sits in the 215 range.
With hopes of competing at the collegiate level, he plans on skipping this summer's nationals in Dallas, Texas, to train in Florida.
For now, though, Green is focused on the task at hand. Getting better everyday.
"Are you going home, or what,?" Austin asked Green Monday afternoon at Arc Lanes.
"No, I think I'm going to bowl," Green replied. "I haven't picked up a ball since state."
Green continues to travel from Princeton to Arc Lanes on Evansville's southside for practice four or five times a week, eager to learn, and hoping to get better with each throw.
Just five years ago, bowling started out as a fun after school activity for Green, and now his every move is focused around a sphere ball with three holes drilled into it.