Scott Norton and Craig Woodward were married Oct. 22, at the Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, Calif., thus forming a true pioneering milestone in the LGBT sports world.
Woodward, 37, is the director of underwriting for United Healthcare. His partner, known worldwide as "Iceman," is a professional bowler and attorney. Norton, 29, joined the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) in 2008. He was named the 2009 PBA West Region Rookie of the Year. At the 2010 World Series of Bowling, he won his first PBA Tour title, the PBA Chameleon Championship.
This past April, Norton officially came out as gay on the bowling circuit, though he was out to many others since he was 18.
This past May, the PBA named Norton the Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year.
"[The PBA] is the most wonderful experience I could ever ask for, competing against the best players in the world," Norton said. "It makes it all the better that the vast majority are indifferent, if not supportive, of me being an out gay man on tour.
"I came out when I was 18. At the beginning, it wasn't terrible, but wasn't great either. My parents were somewhat supportive, and most of my friends were either accepting or openly supportive. As time has gone on, everyone in my life [has been] incredibly supportive."
Still, Norton said that early on his bowling career, being gay was an issue to some, though he did not elaborate. "But I've laid most of those issues to rest," he said.
Norton, who lives in Costa Mesa, Calif., said being gay has not impacted or affected his 'day job' as an attorney. Not at all, he added.
Norton's mom, Virginia, is a U.S. Bowling Congress Hall of Famer, so the fact he started striking at age 4 shouldn't be much of a surprise. At age 18, he won 21 amateur bowling titles and the gold medal at the Junior World Amateur Championships. Plus, Norton was the youngest person ever to win the Adult National Amateur Championship.
Norton, who attended California State University-Fullerton, was the collegiate bowler of the year for 2000-2001. Also an attorney, he passed the California bar exam in 2009.
"I got to grow up watching [my mom] compete and become a Hall of Famer. [She] is my inspiration," Norton said. "[Being a] professional bowler is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of mine. I am so excited and proud to be out there competing among the best in the world at a sport on a daily basis. It's all any athlete could ever ask for.
"I always thought there was a chance [to make it to the PBA], but I knew it would take a lot of hard work and dedication. On top of that, the difference between great and elite rarely has to do with talent; it's more about what's between the earsin any sport. So, one doesn't really know how you'll perform in those situations until you are put in them."
Norton said The Golden Girls is among his favorite TV shows, and Lady Gaga is his favorite musical performer. "Lady Gaga is one of the most brilliant performers of our time," he said. "Not only is she extremely innovative, but she is one of the most talented people on the planet."
He added it "was always difficult" being the son of a Hall of Famer, "because any success I had was somewhat expected." Naturally that meant added pressure, too. "I felt that a certain level was always expected of me, but that did drive me to be the best I could be," he said.
"My mother has shaped my game from the beginning. I can think of no better way to excel at a sport than to have a Hall of Famer as your free coach. Although it is sometimes difficult to have your mother coach you, it's still invaluable."
Norton's bowling goals are simple: follow mom, and be a Hall of Famer himself. "I'm just hoping there is a PBA tour long enough for me to be able to achieve that goal," he said.
"It is an amazing feeling to be an out pro athlete. I can only hope that once other people, both youth and those who are already established, see that it has no real effect on anything and that it is so freeing to be honest and open about yourself, that more people will come out.
"Being out is important if for no other reason than to show others that you can be gay and successful in sports."