Newfoundland ladies make history by becoming the first women’s team to capture gold at the Five Pin Open National Bowling Championship
To say it has been a banner year for women bowlers in Newfoundland and Labrador would be an understatement. Historic, would be more appropriate.
In late May, the Newfoundland and Labrador 5 Pin Bowling Ladies squad won gold at the Open National Bowling Championships in Gatineau, Quebec. The team, which consisted of Meagan Gallicano, Jennifer Baker, Courtney Lucas, Erica Murphy, Meghan Davis and Melissa Manor, became the first ladies team in history to win the open from Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It’s very much a team sport, but in that moment it is very much individual too,” said Manor, a veteran of the provincial bowling circuit. “Our championship game was really close. It’s coming down to sort of those final shots, and if it was a hockey game you’d pick the best players to take the shot. In bowling, there’s five of us bowling, and different people have different levels of experience and levels of comfort. I can say for myself in the championship game, as it was coming down to the end of the game, you’re sort of living and dying by every single shot. One shot here or there could make the difference. We ended up winning the game by five pins, which in bowling is like a hair, basically.”
Manor is no stranger to the sport, having been introduced to bowling at age five. Thirty-five years later, and she is one of our province’s best, helping her team to the historic Open Title, and earning a silver at the Masters National Tournament in Thunder Bay in early July.
She has the distinction of being something of a triple crown winner in national bowling – earning gold in youth bowling and repeating the feat at the open and masters levels – but the historic win for her and her teammates in Gatineau meant so much more for Newfoundland and Labrador sports as a whole.
“One of the things we keep coming back to is, obviously we’re very proud, but we’re also very humbled,” Manor explains. “Bowling is a sport where, from youth right up to adult, it’s a family, a lot of the same people. There are people I grew up watching trying to win this tournament, or people we’ve bowled with before. When I think about all the great teams and great players from Newfoundland who have bowled, and come so close for so long, to be the ones to finally get that title, we all feel that it’s not just for us. It’s for the Newfoundland ladies. We’ve always felt we were right there, and to be able to win it and say that’s not just for us, but everybody who paved the way for us.”
Amped Up for the Moment
As for nerves? You’d need to lack a pulse to go through the championship level of the sport without some butterflies, but Manor and her teammates have adopted a tried and true psychology to combat the big event feel.
“I think most of my teammates would say the feeling is kind of two things; that nervous excitement and energy where you’re really amped up for the moment, but at the same time you have a few shakes and a few deep breaths to calm yourself and make the shot,” she says.
“We always try to draw the analogy of that the shot you’re throwing in the championship game could be the same shot when you go beer bowling with your friends on a Friday night. It’s the same mechanics, it’s just your head telling you how important it is that causes the stress. You live and die in that moment, and it’s nice that it works out in your favour, because it’s easy to look back at it and smile.
“You hear the crowd behind you, and you think, if nothing else, enjoy it. What a cool moment this is. We are here in this moment with this chance to make history. Hopefully we will, but even if we don’t to be this close and in this environment with people cheering you and the intensity of the other team going shot for shot with you. You can’t beat it.”