On a whim this week I decided to check out the US Open standings. I was pleased to see that a former teammate and competitor from my junior days, Jacqui Reese, was competing. I was even more pleased to see that coming into Friday's match play she was tied for seventh, four spots away from making her first television appearance. After dominating the Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley women's bowling scene for about eight years it is great to see her excel at the highest level.
It was really a pleasure to watch Jacqui's junior career and if you were smart enough to really pay attention you could really learn a lot from how she approached the game. We were in the same Saturday morning and summer doubles league for a few years and I was lucky enough to bowl on her team for the junior team tournament back in 2002/2003. You could never tell how well Jacqui was bowling just by looking at her. Some bowlers wear their performance like a mask: if they are doing well they are all smiles, but if they are doing poorly they look angry or defeated. Jacqui had one look while she was bowling: determined. After every shot you could tell that she was analyzing what she just did and thinking about the next throw. It was very methodical, professional even, and it is the epitome of how a good bowler should concentrate on their game.
It took a long time for this lesson to sink in for me. When I was doing bad I felt even worse. I'd get mad. I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't make adjustments. The whole outing was a bust. I spent a little over two years away from bowling when I started college and when I came back I had a new attitude. I decided to take the Jacqui approach, at least for the most part. I refuse to let my performance get me so upset that I can't concentrate or make adjustments. I've said many times that every game, every outing, is a learning experience and you need to seize that lesson as it is happening rather than reflecting on a poor night of bowling once it is over. A bad week at league can stick with you the rest of the day, which is why leagues take place at night (this is contrary to the popular belief that we bowl at night so we can work during the day), but while you are in the moment keep your calm, remember what you know about how to adjust, and keep trying until you find what works.
I can't argue with the results. I averaged somewhere in the 181 range when I finished juniors. Once I made an effort to keep my composure I jumped into the 190s and have been on a steady increase ever since.
So good luck through the rest of the tournament, Jacqui, and thanks for being a great role model.
Keep calm and keep bowling.