Kevin Hindman was always a bit advanced for his age.
His parents entered him into his first bowling league in 1998, when he was just 4 years old; it was a "bumper league" for children. Only Hindman never hit the bumpers, causing his parents to move him up the very next year.
It was the beginning of a trend for Hindman, who by age 9 was already bowling with 13 and 14 year olds.
Even today, just one year removed from his graduation at Knoch High School and two years from his Pennsylvania High School singles bowling championship, Hindman is already the head coach for the school's bowling team.
"It's definitely weird trying to act like a coach to kids I was on the same team with," Hindman admits. "But it's nice to teach kids and it's nice to help them out."
Hindman has embraced his coaching role, but his playing days are far from over. He's coming off a freshman season at Community College at Allegheny County that saw him finish 22nd out of 150 bowlers at the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament and in June he won the all-events handicapped title at the Pennsylvania State Bowling Association Tournament with a scratch all-events score of 2,292.
Coming into the tournament with only a 63-pin handicap, Hindman had to beat other bowlers with handicaps north of 400 pins. When he finished, he was shocked to find out he stood atop the leader board.
"That was the last thing I thought I was going to win," he said. "A lot of luck I would say, I'd rather be lucky than good any day."
In that respect, Hindman may be selling himself short. Angelo Bordogna, his coach at CCAC, calls Hindman one of the purest bowlers he's ever seen. Combine his ability with his upbeat attitude, Bordogna said, and you have a guy who can accomplish whatever he wants on the lanes.
Right now, what Hindman wants badly is a chance to earn a bowling scholarship for college beyond CCAC. After high school he had originally considered going to Robert Morris, but decided to take the money-saving route of attending a community college.
CCAC also had Bordogna, who Hindman knew from his bowling days at Knoch. Bordogna serves as the president of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Bowling League and also coached at Central Catholic, where he followed Hindman throughout high school.
Hindman faced several adjustments during his first college season, most notably having to acclimate to tougher lane conditions. Although his typical average score is in the neighborhood of 220, he said, it dropped to 199 in college events.
By his coach's standards, Hindman's freshman season was a successful one. Bordogna said Hindman's ability to roll hard and make adjustments reminds him of a cross between two great Pennsylvania bowlers: Mike Croccia, for his power, and Buddy DeLuca for his ability to adapt.
"I don't care what kind of ball you put in his hand, I don't care what conditions you put him on, the kid can hit pins," Bordogna said.
Hindman is majoring in business management, but says he's not sure at this point what sort of career he might want to pursue beyond college. Bowling is his only focus.
If he has it his way, he'll bowl professionally and do it for the rest of his life -- something that Bordogna said, if he puts the work in, isn't out of the question.
But for now, the next step remains being noticed by a college and being offered a scholarship. Although Hindman remains cautiously optimistic, his coach said he's already been contacted by schools that show interest, leading him to believe Hindman will in fact have that opportunity.
"It's going to happen. Believe me, this kid is going to have a lot of offers," Bordogna said. "He doesn't know it, but people are looking at him."