Chelsea Weik has been bowling since she was 6 years old.
Now 23, the Ephrata High School graduate set a personal record in March _ a three-game 835 series. Weik recorded her all-time high during the first weekend of the Pennsylvania Men's State Bowling Tournament. Her team, the Holy Rollers, is now sitting in first place, thanks largely to her efforts.
Weik is also using this time to prepare for the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Queen's Tournament, which will take place in Euless, Texas, from April 19-25.
For this week's Sports Q&A, we caught up with the young but talented York amateur to find out how she's feeling after setting her record, and what she's doing to prepare herself for the Queen's event.
Why did you decide to try bowling?
I first started off out in a bumper league. My dad was the one who really got me interested. (He) bowled in a league and I decided I'm going to try bowling. I had a really good coach, Janice Meckley, who helped me get into the sport.
When did you start taking bowling, and your abilities, seriously?
Probably not until I got into my middle school years. I upgraded my bowling balls at the time and really started taking my game to the next level. I started bowling on a travel league when I was in eighth grade. I didn't start bowling really big tournaments until ninth grade, tournaments that I could win scholarship money for.
Did you continue bowling after high school?
After I graduated, I decided that I was going to go for college just for an education; I wasn't going to take up any kinds of sports. Even though I still bowled in adult leagues and tournaments during college, I never bowled for an actual school team. I went to Alvernia University and I got a degree in biology. I actually got my masters degree a year after that at Thomas Jefferson, so I had about five years where I still bowled but bowling was kind of like my second love at the time, because school was my primary goal.
When did the state tournament begin?
The first weekend was March 24-25, so that was the first weekend for the tournament to run, and that was when I bowled.
Were you supposed to be playing that weekend?
I was not. My boyfriend was bowling on this team, and he had called me the week before and said they needed another sub to bowl that weekend. I said that would be fine I filled the spot and I was given a really good chance to bowl. That was my first 800 series. I've had many, many 700s, but in bowling, 800 is kind of like a standout. To be able to do that, I would even say one time for a lot of people, is just unbelievable, let alone some of the people that can do it multiple times. It's really an accomplishment.
What was going through your head while you were bowling those three games?
I had 23 out of 24 consecutive strikes throughout two games. Basically I missed one shot where I had to spare. Thankfully, I should say, my boyfriend was there because he is quite an accomplished bowler himself. And he has been in my shoes plenty of times before where you're going for that 800. I did shoot a 300 my second game it was my second 300 within five years, so I definitely was nervous. I said to my boyfriend: 'I think I was more nervous shooting that 300 than the 800.'
How is it being the only girl on your team, and in a league that is mostly male?
That's a tough question, only because it's very hard to find a lot of just-women's tournaments. I really feel like it was a good opportunity, and I had a lot of support from a lot of men. You'll never see men being able to bowl in a women's tournament. I go in with an open mind, and just being thankful for the opportunity to bowl with the guys.
What are some of your routines and strategies in preparing for a game?
In February I had gotten a practice card, basically just preparing myself more or less for the Queen's Tournament because at this time I didn't know I'd be bowling states. I would go and practice spares _ with bowling, there's so much to learn. Learning to be familiar with your ball reactions, how the lanes act. That's how I plan to bowl in tournaments. Just really practice all the time.
Have you competed in the USBC Queen's Tournament before?
I have. This is going to be my third time competing.
As an amateur bowler, how do you prepare for a professional tournament of this size and talent?
I'm doing everything on my own. I pay for all of my classes, any coaching I'd receive, I pay for all of my bowling equipment. When you're competing against these women, they're paying almost next to nothing for everything. It's very hard, not only financially, but mentally as well. They're getting all of the opportunity in the world, and state-of-the-art practice facilities and have the highest level certified coach to be able to do what they want to do. It's actually a very difficult tournament. Not because I can't compete with them bowling-wise, but that I can't necessarily compete at a financial level. I'm certainly going to try and get my game as high up as I can, and have new equipment, and as much practice. As far as that gets me, that's where it gets me.
What do you do when you're not bowling?
I work at John's Hopkins hospital. I'm a clinical microbiologist there. But also, I spend time with my family. I love to golf, my boyfriend got me into golfing.
_ Reach Abigail Horsman at email@example.com.