Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Spare Time

Sophomore Veronyca West felt the 14-pound ball release off of her hand for what felt like the 100th time that day. But as the ball left the tip of her thumb, she felt a sudden pain as she saw her blood begin to trickle out. West couldn’t believe this small injury could cost her state. 

***

A year later, West’s thumb injury has healed. Instead, the small burn mark on her thumb, a result of her six day a week bowling schedule has now taken its place. West has been competitively bowling for three years since joining the school’s bowling club her freshman year. 

Back then, she joined the school’s bowling club on a whim, because she needed another extracurricular to take up her time. And found herself thrown into the world of       competitive bowling. By the end of the season, West and the team qualified for regionals. West was happy to be there but still wanted to bowl with everything she had. But walking around, seeing the different scores at each lane, she found she was dead last. 

“It was embarrassing,” West said. “And I was like, ‘you know what, these girls are really good, I want to be like them.’” 

The other competitors’ scores of 180 to 200 blew her average of 115 out of the water. She felt so far away from where everyone else was. 

But instead of quitting, she channeled that feeling into improving. 

“I wanted people to see me as somebody they could compete with,” West said. “I wanted people to see me, better than they saw me at the time.”

But improvement had to wait. West stayed inside quarantined during the peak of COVID-19 but she knew the only way to catch up to her competition was to play game after game at her nearby bowling alley. 

“I had been trying to get better, but it’s hard to get better when you aren’t actually putting in the time and effort to do it,” West said. “It’s just how it goes with everything.” 

 And as soon as the bowling alleys reopened, West put in the hours at multiple different alleys and participated in bowling leagues outside of school as well. 

Her love for bowling had skyrocketed past just a hobby. She wanted to play whenever she could. It was now the sport she loved. 

“This is what I loved doing,” West said. “This was the thing I wanted to continue doing, and I have and I’ve loved it.” 

***

With help from her family and her coaches, West saw her averages each game rise from 115 to 165 to 175, scores far higher than the casual bowler she started out as. 

During her second run at regionals, everything was going perfectly for West as she picked up multiple spares with pinpoint accuracy. Then during her first game, a blister on her thumb popped. Bowling for the rest of the tournament afterwards was painful, to the point where it was barely manageable. 

“It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life,” West said. “Because I had to keep bowling since there’s no way I could’ve bowled without my thumb.” 

Teammate Colin Robb said that he thought the injury was going to hold West back in the tournament.

“I was a little nervous,” Robb said. “You could see it on the video, there was blood everywhere and I thought that was the end of her run for state.”

Despite her setback, West put up high scores that were neck and neck with the other bowlers. 

Her strategy for success was to bowl as little as she could. 

“At that point I was like, “I want a strike so I don’t have to throw a second ball in every frame,” West said. “So I threw a lot of strikes.” 

In her first match in the semi finals, West beat a senior girl 1-2. In two of her matches, she put up two scores of 240.

“Wow I have a real chance to win this,” West thought. 

After her semifinal matches came another long wait to find out if she made it to the next round. Getting to state was going to be a whole different challenge. To get to state, she needed to be one of the eight best players in the building. Looking around at her competition, she recognized bowlers that she’d seen average 200 before. 

“There’s no way I’m going to make it, there’s no way,” West thought. 

But then the announcement came. She was the eighth qualifying player.

“I was just happy to be there,” West said. “It was fun and I was just enjoying bowling, and that was the greatest thing.”

She didn’t care at all that she had the lowest average of the qualified players. West focused instead on the only thing in her control – her score. 

“I was thinking how the next frame was the most important thing, like I didn’t care about what happens in the future,” West said. “This was what I needed to care about.”

West was matched up against the projected winner of the entire tournament in one of her state matches, but being an underdog was second nature for her. 

Even though she felt the stinging pain in her thumb, West’s determination never wavered. Keeping up frame for frame, West eventually edged out her matchup, clinching an upset win against one of the strongest bowlers in the state. 

“That was crazy,” West said. “She is such a good bowler, I was just really impressed.” 

In the semi finals, West again put up competitive scores, but still lost 1-2. She was upset by the result, but getting third at state was the accomplishment that showed her real potential. 

“I mean it was the most eye opening experience I’ve ever had,” West said. “Seeing how well I could do and loving what I’m doing right now, I could see myself doing this forever.” 

This type of success has come at great physical and mental cost for West, as so much of her time is spent bowling, either for one of her multiple leagues or for the  school. 

“I’m swinging a 14 pound bowling ball 300 times, 400 times, 600 times in a weekend,” West said. “It’s ridiculous.” 

But West continues to persevere. 

“I just keep going because I know I can be a good bowler whenever I’m having a good day and it’s fun,” West said. “And that’s what motivates me because I know that I want to have those good days more often and that if I keep doing it, I will have more of those days.”

Since first joining the club, she’s picked up awards from multiple tournaments she’s participated in throughout her bowling career. First and second places at city tournaments, a first place win in an adult tournament in Plano, a first place team win at the Texas State tournament and a seventh place at a tournament that she won $350 from, all added up to hundreds of dollars and a resume likely to attract collegiate offers. 

“I could see me doing this until the day I can’t anymore, I want to go to college for it, I want to go on the PWBA (Professional Woman’s Bowling Association) tour,” West said. “Bowling’s the biggest thing in my life right now.”  

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About the Contributor
Hyunsung Na, Online Editor
Hyunsung Na (he/him) is a senior and this is his third year on staff. He’s ready to teach and do his job. He’s forgotten what he really does but he’ll do it and he’ll do it with spunk. He has plenty of spunk and swag. Outside of school, he works at Learning Express, a toy store, where he does the job of an elf. Wrapping. Restocking. Helping. Elf. 

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