Lindenwood bowler striving to overcome career-threatening injury


Chris Albanese (right) pictured alongside now Lindenwood graduate Ian Draughon (left). From the Nov. 16-17, 2019 Striking Knights Classic in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jack Leach, Reporter

There are plenty of life lessons uncovered throughout an athlete’s journey.

These moments derive from the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of their personal development within the sport they have a passion for.

In a lot of cases, athletes may even feel more determined to hit the top than ever before, once falling to the bottom.

Sophomore Chris Albanese has reached a career-low on his bowling path. On top of the already COVID-riddled offseason, Albanese was dealing with a career-threatening spinal injury.

“Back in March, this was my first inclination that I had something wrong with my back,” Albanese said. “I had sharp nerve pain going through my spine down my left leg.”

Although last season’s national tournament was cancelled before the bowling roster arrived in Dallas, Albanese knew that this was not any ordinary back injury. He simply could not travel with the team- and more importantly – bowl.

“I stayed home,” Albanese said. “During that time, I was stuck in a plastic brace around my entire back. The only time that I was able to take it off was to shower. This was a rough time for me.”

After meeting with medical practitioners, it was confirmed that through repetitive use of the muscles in his back and legs, Albanese had developed a stress fracture between the L4 and L5 lumbar vertebrae in his spine.

“I was out of commission until mid-June,” Albanese said. “A week later, alleys opened again and I was able to practice for the first time. However, […] I had to face reality that I may never be able to bowl competitively again.”

According to Albanese, this injury not only limited himself physically, but also deeply affected his mental physique.

“I have never experienced anything like this,” Albanese said. “This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. […] Nothing beats how upset, frustrated, and angry I was. I couldn’t do the one thing I have loved to do since I was three years old, and that truly can damage a person.”

Once the brace was removed and limited bowling ensued, Albanese was quickly put into rehabilitation services to regain his strength and build-up his confidence.

“Rehab consisted of a ton of stretching and strengthening of the lower back and leg muscles,” Albanese said. “My legs needed to be strong enough that they can take on the weight of my upper body.

“I developed Sciatica, due to my legs not being well-stretched. This [nerve pain] caused some tightness, which increased pressure in my lower back.”

Albanese’s back injury has progressed ever since. At the moment, the sophomore is bowling six games per week and is simply grateful for his current situation.

“My family is supportive along with my friends,” Albanese said. “The fact that this time off has allowed for my back to heal a bit more is also very encouraging. […] Being able to bowl at least once a week is reassuring and gives me some form of comfort.”

According to Albanese, the consistency will continue, as he seeks to accomplish a goal that he set since day one of entering Lindenwood’s walls as a student athlete.

“[…] Knowing that I have to work extra to come back from this injury is tough,” Albanese said. “However, if I can overcome this, then there isn’t anything standing in my way from practicing hard enough to make it to nationals, to take home a singles [title] and to bring back the first national title for the Lindenwood men’s bowling program since 2014.”