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Assistant bowling coach joins PBA Tour to fulfill ailing son's wish

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally
Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph's Prep assistant bowling coach Joe Nawn, 46, and his 16-year-old son Joseph
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Assistant prep bowling coach Joe Nawn, 46, will try his hand at one of the PBA Tour's four majors on his 16-year-old son Joseph's behest. (Philly.com)

Someone get the "Invincible" producers on the phone, because this might be the bowling version of Mark Wahlberg's Vince Papale vehicle. In an attempt to fulfill his ailing son's wish, a 46-year-old assistant high school bowling coach tried to win one of the Professional Bowlers Association's four majors.

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Masters in North Brunswick, N.J., is one of the PBA Tour's most prestigious events, but anyone who has averaged a score of 210 over the previous two years can enter, and Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph's Prep assistant principal Joe Nawn is one such man.

"Imagine, for a week, you get to honestly pull on an Eagles jersey and be a Philadelphia Eagle," Nawn, also an assistant for the Hawks' bowling team, told the Philadelphia Inquirer for a feature on his inspiring story. "You wouldn't trade that for gold. ... I get to pull on a jersey and bowl with the pros."

Last year, just before his 16-year-old son Joseph's central-nervous-system disorder and autoimmune hepatitis forced him into the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Nawn entered his first USBC Masters, averaging a score of 195 in 15 games and finishing 250th out of 468 entrants, according to the Inquirer.

However, as he reportedly averaged 228 while bowling a dozen games a week in three different leagues, Nawn planned to forego this past week's 2014 USBC Masters. But his son -- now healthy enough to watch him compete -- convinced him to pony up the estimated $1,500 it would cost to participate as one of 148 amateurs in the five days of competition it would take to qualify for the round of 64.

"Part of the reason I'm going is I want to bowl for him," Nawn told the Inquirer before entering. "I would love for my son to see me, and I'd love to do well for him. He is really proud of his dad, and it's very humbling."

Unfortunately, Nawn averaged 183 over the 15 frames this time around and finished 359th, but for another week he was on the PBA Tour, and this time around his son was there to see it. That's a victory in itself.

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