2009 Jeffrey Allan Classic: My Best Day In The Sport…So Far
As much as I have less and less of a use for Facebook with all of there ridiculous ads and jokes that make no sense, one thing I do like is the On This Day timeline. It allows you to take a look at years gone by (And in my case pinpoint where my life went wrong), and while it may not be considered a good thing to dwell on the past as I am learning, there are certain memories you do remember that are worth remembering. And on March 21st, as I was checking my Facebook in the morning before heading to work, I stumbled across the fact that it was the 8 year anniversary of my most memorable moment in the sport thus far, and that was my performance in the 2009 MBAO Jeffrey Allan Classic at Bowl-O-Rama Lanes in Welland. And as I looked at that, I realized I would be foolish if I did not try to reminisce about my experience that day, and how I have gone back to that day time and time again my bowling career.
In March of 2009, I was not the person that I am now, both in bowling and otherwise. I was trying to figure out what life was all about and was both succeeding and failing at the same time. I had just started working for Fairview Lanes as a pinchaser only months beforehand and was hoping that it could turn into a long time career in the future (Was that a mistake in my thinking or what!) and was well into my first run in the Masters and was making a run at travelling to various tournaments in Brantford, the Toronto area and all over Niagara to ply my trade, unsuccessful as it may have been at the time. And at the time of the Jeffrey Allan Classic, the Teaching Division, which is where I was competing in was holding their Eastern Teaching Division event at Orleans Bowling Centre in Orleans (The Ottawa area, not New Orleans). And since I realized I did not have the funds necessary to travel all the way there and back, I decided to stay at home and fill the field and compete against the best Tournament Masters in Southern Ontario and test my skills against them at Bowl-O-Rama Lanes in Welland. I knew that I had nothing to lose and a great learning experience to gain, which made my decision at the time all the more easier. It was the site of some memorable days on the lanes, and I figured there could be a chance of that again.
While I do not remember all of the details (As you get older, somethings get fuzzy) I do recall that I put in some actual practice time at Fairview to get ready for this event. I knew that back then, I was not even close to the ability level of those Tournament Masters and wanted to be absolutely sure that I did not embarrass myself and remained competitive with them through out the whole tournament and earn some measure of respect among them when the day was out. When I left that day to travel to the lanes, I had no way of knowing how good or bad I would do but I was hoping that at the end of the day I would leave with my head held high.
What I remember most about the tournament that day, was that the action was fast and furious from all competitors and all sides. And I knew that I would have to shoot those type of scores in order to have a chance in succeeding in this tournament. Whether it was knowing that, or knowing that the chances for success were slim, or the fact that I put in the time and practiced for the event, for some reason, I felt different from how I usually felt in previous tournaments. I felt relaxed, I felt calm, cool and collected and I felt like I knew what I was doing and it was just a matter of executing the right shots. And from the opening game with the Rocky music in my head, I was doing exactly that, and I surprised myself in the opening game by shooting a 300, and I thought to myself that if nothing else, I shot a very good opening game. I proceeded to surprise myself again by falling a right corner pin short of beating that game by shooting a 299 in Game 2. I followed that up by shooting 232, 266, 250 and 240 in the games following that 2 game start, while I was pleased with how I was performing on the day, I was shocked to learn that though I was in contention, I was not even close to the leaders as the scores that were being posted that day were the equivalent of what Plamor Lanes is putting out on a weekly basis. So I knew that in the final two games of qualifying, I would have to pour it on as never before but was not really sure how to do that besides just doing what I was doing.
And then, it happened…..In Game 7, after with a spare and a headpin (I think I finished with 12 in that frame) I got a strike in the next frame.
Then I got another one, and another one, and another one, and another one and another one, and before I knew it, I was on a run of seven strikes in a row going into the 10th frame. While I don’t remember who I was playing with that day, I know for a fact that they must have been thinking “Who is this guy and where did he come from?” But I also remember that those bowlers who were watching were happy for me and the run I was on that game and that day and were hoping that I would finish it off in the 10th frame. And I then proceeded to throw two perfect strikes and leave a left corner on the last shot to shoot a career high single of 390. I remember after that game was over having a feeling of euphoria that I have never felt before that day or since and that I met with praise from everyone around me because they all understood how happy I was with that game and was also surprised to learn that not only did I shoot 390 that game, but Hall of Fame southpaw Geoff Stevens shot the exact same game and split the singles pot that game as well. That game put me in 5th place behind Terry Little and Jeff Forester, as the top four advanced to a page playoff. I realized all of a sudden that I had a chance to make that round if I shot another solid game. Then, reality set in for me, and I was not able to put that last game out of my mind quickly enough, and shot a 202 in the final game which was my low game of the day and put me down in 12th position.
A 2184 for eight games and 273 average for the day was what I had to show for it in a day that I remember to this day, and is a reference point for me any time I do get down on myself after shooting a bad game. It is a day that I often remember to remind myself that I am a good bowler and that I have the capabilities of being a great one if I can just find the confidence in myself again one more time. And beyond anything else, I can look back on that day and say to myself that for one day in my bowling career, I was as good as anybody in Southern Ontario and might have earned a measure of respect among my fellow bowlers. I just hope that one day, I can find this talent on the lanes again and more importantly, earn the respect of my fellow bowlers, which in reality is all I have ever wanted.
-- William Morrison