The fall national signing day was two weeks ago, but I feel Paige Kraushaar's commitment is worth a well-deserved second look.
The Boone Grove senior was listed with 23 other athletes who signed from Northwest Indiana in the Nov. 15 Times sports editions -- but she was just one of two athletes who inked with a current top-10 ranked program.
Defending state diving champion and LaPorte senior Josh Arndt signed with seventh-ranked Indiana -- and Kraushaar signed with No. 10 Stephen F. Austin's women's bowling program.
Outside of No. 9 Valparaiso University's Megan Tenorio (Lake Station) and Jill Larson (Merrillville), no other area or Indiana bowlers were part of any of the preseason top 20 programs.
Not only was SFA interested, but Kraushaar also received attention from preseason No. 4 Vanderbilt, who won the NCAA title in 2007.
"I'm really excited to break through like this," said Kraushaar, whose older brother, Jimmy, bowls for NAIA Siena Heights. "I couldn't believe schools were talking to me."
Kraushaar helped the Wolves reach the high school state finals as a sophomore, which was a first for any Boone Grove program and a point the senior made sure to point out.
That's not where the bowler gained the bulk of her college attention. She qualified for the last two United State Bowling Congress Junior Gold events, making the first cut and placing 78th last year in Indianapolis.
"That's where you are noticed," Kraushaar said. "I never thought about SFA before, but then I was told to look into it. I was told the coach was looking at me.
"I wanted to get away from home and experience something different."
She's already in select company. I won't compare her to pro bowler Diandra Asbaty at this point, but the Lake Central grad and two-time Collegiate All-American at Nebraska is a major part of Kraushaar's career. Asbaty is an amateur coach for Kraushaar. The Wolves senior has taken lessons from Asbaty since sixth grade.
"I absolutely adore her and look up to her," Kraushaar said of Asbaty. "She's an amazing bowler and an amazing person. She is definitely a role model for me."
Kraushaar doesn't consider herself to be a role model, but she is doing what she can to get the word out about post-prep opportunities for teen bowlers.
"I'm definitely trying to get other girls interested in finding out more about bowling in college," she said. "Tournaments like the Junior Gold never stuck in their minds, but I want to let them know what is out there."
Kraushaar also realizes that her signing isn't the constant talk through the halls at Boone Grove -- like a Division I basketball or football commitment might bring. She still doesn't feel disrespected.
"They're kind of realizing that, 'Oh, it's just not about throwing the ball down a lane,'" she said. "I do know people are excited for me."
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.