Bowling is as much a mind game as it is an ability to knock down pins, says Morgan Pelkie.
“Once you start throwing 10 strikes in a row it gets really nerve wracking,” said the 17-year-old Northern Collegiate student.
“My coach will throw his keys on the lane while I’m going to throw my shot. He’ll talk before I throw my shot — just anything to try to throw me off.”
The objective is to create a routine in which she’s able to block out each and every distraction. And it seems to be working.
Pelkie has bowled over the competition lately, setting several personal bests, earning a U.S. bowling scholarship and being named to the Canadian national junior team.
To earn a spot on the eight-member junior squad, she beat out 500 other amateur female bowlers. In March, she’ll attend the team’s training camp.
In November, Pelkie rolled a 297 — just three pins short of a perfect game. And last month she scored a 780 triple, a personal best over three games.
To do that, she nailed 29 of a possible 36 strikes.
This fall, she’ll hone her game on an $18,000 scholarship at Oklahoma Christian University, where she will study history and pre-law when not on the lanes.
Pelkie said family members began bringing her to the bowling alley at the age of four, and shortly after she joined the SMAA league.
Although she tried ballet at one point she felt more comfortable in bowling shoes than slippers.
She plays up to 27 games a week, participating in the Marcin Bowl youth program, which is affiliated with the Lambton Ten Pin Association.
From a young age she understood the mechanics of the game, but working with coach Gil Jean has improved her scores considerably, she said.
And turning pro one day is not out of the question, she added.
“I think I would find it something cool, something interesting, a different kind of career.”
Already, the sport has expanded her horizons and taken her to tournaments across the United States.
“But I always have this thing in the back of my mind. If I’m not bowling for fun, it’s not worth it.”