Thursday, July 12, 2012

Missy Comes in 2nd Place at the U.S. Women's Open

Part 2: TV show day - Tournament moves outdoors to Virginia Street under the Reno Arch

First and foremost, since the BPAA and tournament officials are getting ridiculed for this year's event, I'd like to remind everyone that without the generous support of the BPAA and other prominent sponsors, the U.S. Women's Open would not even happen. The BPAA decided to bring back the U.S. Women's Open for the 2011 tournament, which was a huge success and boasted a record breaking field for the number of participants. Bringing back the tournament again in 2012, the BPAA had another successful tournament. For all of the hard work, time and effort that BPAA and all of the sponsors give to this tournament, I first would like to say a HUGE Thank You for allowing us to have another major to compete in every year!  :) 

I'd like to give everyone an insider's perspective regarding the entire day of the TV show, starting with our schedule for that day.

Our Schedule at a glance:

8:30am:       Introduction at the Bowl Expo general session
10am:          Photo Shoot and on-camera interviews at the River walk
11am-1pm:  Practice session outside on the TV lanes
1pm:            Limo ride to Reno Sparks Convention Center - Eat lunch on the way
1:30pm:       Interviews at the BWAA booth at the Bowl Expo Tradeshow
2:30pm:       Head back to downtown Reno
4:45pm:       Roll call
5pm-6pm:    Practice on the TV pair
6:20pm:       Start Opening Ceremony then immediately start official practice session for TV show
7pm:            Start Taping TV show      

As you can see, we had a pretty tight schedule leading up to the taping of the TV show. Not being a morning person at all, I was really looking forward to sleeping in and relaxing a bit before the big night, as the TV show started at 7pm. Unfortunately that was not the case, but such comes with the territory of making TV.  

Now, as odd as this may sound, I have actually always wanted to bowl outside. Making the PBA Team Shootout the year after they stopped competing outdoors at Six Flags theme parks, I was really looking forward to my first outdoor bowling competition. The afternoon practice session went really well. The setting looked super cool! With sunglasses on and battling the heat, I was surprisingly impressed at how calm and relaxed I felt bowling outside during the practice session. The lane condition played different than what it had all week, but that was to be expected. I had a great look with the new 900 Global Sure Thing, The Look and the new purple and pink Jewel.

We had a quick breather after the practice session, since none of us practiced for all 2 hours in the hot sun. Then at 1pm we got into a very nice limo, where we ate lunch on our way to the Reno Sparks Convention Center to do interviews at the BWAA booth at the Bowl Expo tradeshow. After mingling for a bit, we headed back to downtown Reno and had 1 1/2 hours off before having to be on set for the TV show. I took the opportunity to take a small nap and then headed over.

We practiced from 5pm-6pm and by this time the wind was starting to pick up a little bit and it was still really hot outside. The lanes played completely different than they had during the afternoon practice session due to the outside elements, so my Jewel was looking better as the balls were starting to hook more.

Then, the fun began...We had a very special opening ceremonies, where we all were escorted out onto the lanes by military personnel as a salute to our heroes that serve our country. The national anthem was sang beautifully by an all male group, complete with fireworks and a special fly over kicking off the night.

The stage was set: bleachers packed, fans watching from the neighboring parking structure and hotel rooms and side streets were also filled with anxious fans and some curious non-bowlers as well.

As the TV show started with the sun starting to set, mother nature did not cooperate as the wind kicked up to 20-25mph. Wind blowing hair in our face was the least of our worries, we'd soon discover, as the wind was also blowing piles of dust and dirt out on to the lanes and approaches. This caused the lane conditions to go from good, bad, to worse in a hurry as bowling balls were covered with dirt every shot and the wind didn't ease up.

As I was watching the matches ahead of me unfold before my eyes, my game plan went from throwing my 900 Global Jewel, to a Pink and Black Hook to a Pink and Black plastic Bam by the time it was my turn to bowl on the TV show.

I'm not going to explain the TV show, shot for shot etc. because most of you watched it and if you haven't seen it, then I'm sure it's on YouTube, so check it out! So, I'd like to just recap my thoughts, explain a few things that went on, as well as clarify a few things that I've heard from friends and fans alike.

First off, I would like to say this loud and clear with no disrespect to anyone, but NO ONE has any clue what the 5 of us bowled on that night. We are all great spare shooters and great shot makers and some of the most accurate players in the sport today. With the elements at hand and the conditions that we were all faced with, there wasn't an easy spare to shoot at and it was more than just hitting a target and making a good shot. The scores were low, conditions were brutal, but we all managed to pull through it as best we could with class and determination and for that I am very proud of all of us!

So a few thoughts...I've bowled on VERY dry lane conditions before. I've practiced on Sundays at bowling centers that don't oil throughout the weekend and used my plastic ball to work on accuracy. When I first turned adult (way back when), there was a big money league I competed in that during one round, had a shot where the heads are only oiled like 15 feet or something crazy like that, so I used a urethane ball for strikes and an old manhattan rubber ball to shoot spares and yes even that rubber ball hooked at spares with my high ball speed. I'm explaining all of this because with keeping the above information in mind, I thought that I'd be fine on the TV show... I can throw it hard, I can hit a mark and I've been faced with similar conditions before. For those of you that were thinking the same thing when watching the TV show, that is absolutely not the case unless you've bowled outdoors in wind with sand, dirt and dust covering the lanes so bad that you can see the ball tracks. Forget drawing on the TV screen to show where we all were playing, it was drawn out clear as day by the dust.

So, once it got to the final match against my good friend Kelly Kulick, I changed my strategy and she also had the same thing in mind. We played as far left as we could get and let our plastic balls fade into the pocket, hoping to create enough carry to not leave some nasty pocket splits. I was throwing it with some good ball speed and taking my hand out of the ball to make it go straighter, and unfortunately I did leave a couple of back-to-back pocket 8-10s in the middle of the match. But that's bowling. All you can ever do is make good shots and hope the pins fall accordingly. 

A few clarifications...For those that noticed and or heard, while I was bowling on the TV show, I wore a white patch on my jersey that said "Bo" and had a cross on it. My husband and I's great friend and employee Bo Vrabel was in the hospital with health complications and passed away in the middle of the tournament. The last thing Bo said to me when I saw him at the hospital before leaving to Reno was "Bowl great at the U.S. Open! Win the whole thing!" So I was determined to do just that in memory of our great friend Bo!

Another clarification... for those that were able to watch the show live in person (this was cut out on TV), in the middle of our match, a fan up in the parking structure rudely yelled out in the middle of Kelly's approach. Luckily, she was able to stop and regroup and threw a strike, pointing up to that fan in return. Let me clarify that all she did was point up to that fan and nothing more. Shortly after that, we had a commercial break. At the commercial break, I jumped up and was very upset and talked to the tournament officials because we had a little monitor near the ball return that was supposed to be displaying the scores for us and it wasn't working the ENTIRE match. So I didn't even know what frame it was (hence I had to ask if it was even commercial break.)  I didn't know what the exact scores were because let me tell you, I don't know if it's the same for everyone, but my brain doesn't work really well when I'm on TV, in respect to keeping scores, adding, etc with everything else going on. I have to really sit there and stare at the scores a little bit to add right. So with no scores up, I definitely was not going to be able to remember exactly what we both had done every frame, other than how many opens we both had. So for those of you that saw that during the commercial break, that's what I was so upset about going into the last 5 frames. It had nothing to do with Kelly and/or the rude fan. Thankfully, the tournament officials quickly fixed the monitor and the scores were up by the time the commercial break ended and remained on for the rest of the match.

Another moment that I'd like to clarify... in the 10th frame, Kelly needed a mark to lock me out of winning the title. When she picked up her spare, she yelled and was very excited. Now, some people took this as being very rude or as directing the outburst at me. That was absolutely not the case! Let me explain...Kelly had lead this same tournament in 2011 by some 600 odd pins. The finals for the tournament were then moved to Cowboys Stadium in which she struggled on TV and lost in the finals. This year, Kelly lead by 300+ pins. Again, the finals were moved to a different venue, outside on Virginia Street. So, Kelly, saying so herself, had to deal with her own "inner demons" when dealing with this TV show. So her outburst at the end, when she claimed the title was merely a cry for joy that she had overcome the previous year's upset and had again won the U.S. Women's Open for a 3rd time. Kudos to Kelly and a big congratulations for winning the 2012 U.S. Women's Open!

So, I came in 2nd place overall in the tournament. Obviously not what I was hoping for, but still a great week. I can't wait to see what's in store for the 2013 U.S. Women's Open! Again, thank you to BPAA and all of the sponsors for making this tournament possible!  :)

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Missy Qualifies for the U.S. Women's Open TV Show: Part I

Part 1: Qualifying and Matchplay at the National Bowling Stadium

Last week, I competed in the 2012 U.S. Women's Open at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada and qualified for the unforgettable night of women's bowling.

It all started with the qualifying portion of the tournament. We bowled 6 games a day for 3 straight days and then the field was cut to the top 25% of the 202 participating women bowlers. I must also add that I LOVED the time schedule for the tournament all week. The earliest we bowled was 3pm, so for those of you that know me and know I'm NOT a morning person, I loved getting to sleep in every day! In fact, when I saw the schedule for the tournament a few weeks ago, I joked to my mom that I was going to win this tournament simply because I didn't have to get up early.

Day 1, I started out a little slow but then finished hot with games of 211, 197, 268, 246, 248 and 249 for +219, using my new 900 Global Sure Thing and The Nuts solid, which put me in 8th place. 

The following day I bowled on the burn squad where the lanes were not re-oiled. I used my 900 Global Nuts and Black Mamba to shoot games of 243, 235, 223, 229, 228 and 180 for +138 for the day and +357 overall, which moved me into 6th place. The final day of qualifying, I used my Black Mamba to shoot games of 216, 204, 278, 213, 267 and 243 for +221 and +578 overall, moving me up into 3rd place overall.

The next day we bowled 6 more games of semifinals and then we cut to the top 16 players. During semis, I struggled a bit and shot games of 190, 196, 256, 224, 223 and 218 for +107 and +685 overall, remaining in 2nd place going into the 16 games of round robin matchplay. We bowled the first 8 games of matchplay that same night. With 30 bonus pins per game on the line, anything could happen, so I knew I needed to bowl really well and WIN matches! The fun part about that night was that Bowl Expo had the welcome reception downstairs at the National Bowling Stadium, so everyone naturally came upstairs to watch us bowl. The grand stands were packed almost completely full, people were cheering and the atmosphere was intense. That night, with games of 244, 203, 278, 259, 203, 202, 258 and 225, using my AMF Black Mamba and 900 Global Black Eagle, I won 6 out of 8 matches and was securely in 2nd place.

The next day, I knew I still had to bowl 8 great games to guarantee making the TV show and hopefully move up in positioning. Well, the day did NOT start out as I had hoped. I lost my first 4 matches and (being one that doesn't watch the scores) didn't know that at one point I had moved down to 4th place. I then shot a big 278 game and 234, winning both matches, but then shot a disappointing 7th game of  189 to drop to 3rd place.

The 8th and final position round game of the tournament was crucial! I was in 3rd place, only 33 pins ahead of Stefanie Nation in 4th place and was exactly 100 pins behind Shannon O'Keefe for 2nd place. (Kelly was uncatchable, leading the tournament by some 300 odd pins.) So I just told myself, you are not going to miss your mark this entire game and I did just that, stringing the first 5 strikes and then leaving a stubborn 10 pin to then string strikes again until the 10th frame. When I got up in the 10th frame, I had already won my match against Stefanie, but Shannon O'Keefe had already finished her match, shooting 204 and losing to Kelly. So I needed to go up and double in the 10th frame (and get count) to move from 3rd into 2nd position for the TV show. Again there were a lot of people watching, and the crowd was pumped. With lots of cheers and myself intensely focused, I struck out, shooting 279 to claim the number two seed for the TV show, a game which proved to be HUGE for what we all faced on the TV show the next night.

Stay Tuned for Part II...