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Oakland student overcomes odds to reach bowling tournament

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(From left) Katherine Shattuck, Micheala Nipper and Jackie Shattuck prepare to compete for the Oakland High School bowling team during a January 2014 qualifying meet in Smyrna, Tenn. (Photo submitted)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Bowling is a family affair for the Shattucks, and Oakland High senior standout Jackie Shattuck recently qualified for this week’s 2014 TSSAA Girls State Bowling Tournament at the Smyrna Bowling Center.

She will join several local bowlers from around the county to  compete for a state title.

However, what makes Shattuck’s story so intriguing is she has reached such a high level while dealing with scoliosis.

“It means a lot to me because I started bowling for Oakland after my sophomore year after getting off the restrictions from my surgery,” Shattuck said. “I would not be able to do it without the help of my father.”

According to the WebMD website, scoliosis is a lateral (toward the side) curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine should show a mild roundness in the upper back and a degree of swayback (inward curvature) in the lower back. When a person with a normal spine is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be straight. When a person with scoliosis is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be curved.

Jackie had the surgery to fix the problem when she was 14 years old. Although it is still hard to deal with sometimes, she has not let it stop her from achieving her goal of advancing to state next week.

She finished with an average of 170 this season, which was good enough to put her in the tournament. Currently, she has a 16-inch rod in her back.

“Sometimes I have to deal with it, especially if I start to slouching,” Jackie said. “My back will start to hurt. Other than that it really does not bother me. It has straightened me out more, and it’s a lot easier.

Her father, Donnie, has been pleased with the way she fought through it, but he also knew it was a difficult struggle for her but the rest of the family.

She was diagnosed with scoliosis back when she was 12 years old. During the next two years, she spent a lot of time at the doctor’s office trying to correct the problem.

The family got a break when they took her to Lexington, Ky., to finally have the surgery, and thanks to help from the Shriners program, it didn’t   cost the family anything.

“It is pretty impressive because they cut her whole back,” Donnie said. “She has a 20-inch scar from her neck all the way down her back. Her resilience overall is amazing. We really focused this year on her spares, and it helped her average out to get it where it needed to be. I am very proud of her.”

During the season, Jackie kept her condition quiet — even from her coach Josh Clifton — and she did not tell him about it until the regular season was over.

“I did not learn that she had dealt with scoliosis until the other day and the season was over,” Clifton said. “That says a lot about her character. I spent a whole season coaching her and never heard her complain or use it as a crutch. I never heard a word about it.

“She battled through it without much help from anyone. She works hard and wants to be good at what she does. I think it is a great achievement to overcome what she has overcome.”

This season, the first-year head coach of the Patriots has been pleased with Jackie’s senior leadership as the program tries to get to a competitive level in a tough district with state bowling powers Smyrna and Siegel.

“She has been a leader in all aspects,” Clifton said. “She gets the team together when I am busy with the boys and gets them focused and ready to bowl. She helped me a great deal being my first year to coach and getting things organized and together.”

However, Jackie is not the only Shattuck who bowls for her local school. Her sister, freshman Katherine, also bowls for Oakland, and their brother, seventh-grader Andrew, bowls for Oakland Middle. She enjoys the chance to watch her siblings compete in the same sport.

“It is amazing to bowl with my sister,” Jackie said. “We are very competitive with each other, but we like to have fun at the same time. Just to have my sister there is very encouraging because I get to help her.”

Next week will be a big test for Jackie competing at the state tournament on one of the toughest oil patterns the bowlers will face all season.

However, Shattuck has faced bigger challenges before, so this will be nothing new for her.

“My goals are to learn a new oil pattern because I have never bowled a sport shot before,” Jackie said. “It will be a challenge since I am used to a regular oil pattern.”

The state tournament will begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and will continue through Saturday. All matches taking place at the Smyrna Bowling Lanes.

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Bowling, Health, Jackie Shattuck, Murfreesboro, Oakland, Sports
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