Athlete of the Week: Dimond High School bowler Maia Struble

AOTW: Maia Struble
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 9:48 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Maia Struble is not only one of the best bowlers in the state, but one of the best bowlers in the country — and she’s committed to Valparaiso University to bowl in college, too.

Sometimes in sports athletes just have it — “it” being that natural talent in any game or sport. For some athletes, they never get the chance to play the sport that they have “it” with, but for Struble she found it early. Maia’s father Ray recalled the day he first saw her talent on the lanes where she still plays to this day at Jewel Lake Bowl.

“This Christmas 10 years ago, we decided to go on a family bowling trip to this alley, and we went out and started bowling,” Ray Struble said. “And having bowled my whole life, when I saw her throw her first ball, something looked right. and it just started building and building and building.”

“She just kept getting better and better and better and here we are today,” Ray said.

Maia Struble started bowling when she was just six years old and now the Dimond High School senior is one of the best bowlers in the country. Struble is a three-time member of the Anchorage Scholastic Bowling League All-Star Team and a two-time Girls Bowler of the Year, and was also named to the 2021-22 Dexter High School All-American Team.

For casual bowlers, the best feeling in the sport is stringing a few strikes together. But once players get to Struble’s level, the best feeling in the sport changes.

“I think closing the frame feels better, because it’s a lot of people say that spares are more important than strikes —and they can’t get you as much count,” Maia said. “But it’s just important, because if your competitor is not making their spares, then you are automatically ahead. So I feel like making those splits and making those spares is really important, so it always feels better than a lot of strikes.”

Not only is she smart on the lanes, but also in the classroom — carrying over a 4.0 grade point average. She uses that knowledge to help her figure out the best way to attack a frame that maybe didn’t go her way by switching up the ball she is using or changing up her tactics.

Struble also understands that while the sport is fun and gives her what every athlete covets — the adrenaline rush — she knows that it can also help her move forward in life.

“There is a lot of money in bowling. There’s a lot of scholarships available, and if you go out there and you find it, and you practice and you are good enough — even if you aren’t good enough if you go out there and just do it — it’s fun, you meet a lot of people, and there is a lot of money out there that’s not being used,” Maia said.

Struble is taking advantage of that by committing to Valparaiso University to bowl in college and also pursue a degree in bio-chemistry. While Struble is going to be leaving the state for college in Indiana, she wants to leave a lasting legacy in Alaska just like Sean Rash, the most successful bowler to come from the 49th state.

“I want to make an impact. I want to leave my name here in Alaska,” Maia said. “A lot of people like Sean Rash. I want to be the female Sean Rash of Alaska. So I want to make my impact, I want to make bowling a bigger sport, cuz it’s so under-recognized. I want to help be an ambassador for the sport.”

Before she can accomplish all of those big dreams though, she has the second half of the high school bowling season to get through.