Hogan Rolls on Fast Lane to Success

He has an unorthodox bowling style, but then again, Michael Hogan is an unorthodox Special Olympian.

            Hogan, 17 and a junior at Old Rochester Regional High School, is turning heads as much as he turns a 15-pound bowling bowl into strikes. Hogan plans on competing in the United States Special Olympics games for bowling in 2026.

            This 10-pin prodigy has been bowling for 10 years and averages 215. He once spun a 298, only two points away from a perfect game.

            Recently, Hogan and his mom Sharon stopped to talk to a reporter at Wonder Bowl in New Bedford. Hogan says he is not sure if he will try out for the Professional Bowlers Association, but he is in love with bowling and certainly has the numbers to aspire to the PBA level.

            “He’s really good,” said his mother Sharon. “Bowling is definitely where he shines.”

            Hogan goes about the game with two balls, constantly analyzing oil patterns on the lanes and applying geometry to nail strikes and pick up spares.

            “It’s like geometry,” said Hogan, who brings this same mindset to his second favorite sport, basketball – using angles and analysis to nail shots.

            “I’m very proud of him. He’s a very good athlete,” Sharon Hogan said. “I’m proud of the mental part of it. He’s really worked on it.”

            Sharon Hogan said Michael, who is on the autism spectrum, played team sports when he was younger. She said the individual aspect of bowling has appealed to him.

            Michael Hogan, like any athlete, runs into ruts but is able to overcome them. Over the years, he has learned to overcome mental frustrations to maintain a high average. At one point, over an eight-game span, Hogan has averaged 260. His highest three-game series is a 781.

            Michael Hogan calls his style unorthodox. He rolls the ball with a two-hand release, uses two balls and avoids putting his thumb in the ball. Hogan said the thumb-less approach relieves pain and helps him put more spin on the ball, as well as spinning a wider hook.

            “I love strikes,” Hogan said with a grin.

            This unorthodox style helps him generate more strikes and more smiles, as he often watches all 10 pins crash to the floor.

            Michael said he even came close to converting a 7-10 split in which two pins are at opposite sides of the lane. Michael said there is only a 0.8% chance of bowlers converting that spare, but he has come close. Also an encyclopedia of bowling knowledge, Michael says that only four professional bowlers have converted this nearly impossible spare.

            His favorite bowler is Australian Jason Belmonte, who last year claimed his fourth career Tournament of Champions title.

            Hogan says he follows other sports, and his favorite team is the Celtics. Hogan says his favorite Celtics player is Derrick White. White recently signed a pin for Hogan, who awaits that gift from the Celtics guard.

            Sharon Hogan said one problem Michael has encountered is finding suitable competition. Most Special Olympians are not at Michael’s level, but that hasn’t curbed his motivation or love of the game.

            Until then, Michael Hogan will still compete and plans on going for the gold in Minnesota, where the U.S. Special Olympics will be held in 2026.

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

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