With an impressive final game of 247, Hamburg High senior Courtney Stewart surprised everyone by winning the BCIAA Girls Invitational Bowling Tournament.
Stewart was staring at a 29 point deficit heading into the final game of the two-day event after scoring a disappointing 181. But she came roaring back in the last game and not only came all the way back, but she won by 40 pins.
“It was a great way to end my senior year, although there is still districts and eastern regionals to bowl,” said Stewart. “Not many people expected me to do as well as I did, and I’m glad I got the chance to prove them wrong. This makes me even more excited to bowl in college.”
After bowling a 843 in four games of the first day of competiton, Stewart was sitting in third place. But after snow delayed the second day of competition to Feb. 19, Stewart bowled games of 209, 259, 181 and 247 to pull out the victory.
After finishing 36th last year in the individual tournament, a second or third place would still have been an accomplishment for Stewart. But she still believed in herself to know she could still win it.
“Going into to the tenth frame of the last game I had asked my dad, ‘Did I win it yet,’ said Stewart. “He told me no, although afterward he told me he had lied because he wanted me to finish strong. I went up and threw the first ball in the 10th and I looked back and he nodded with tears in his eyes. I made my spare and threw the last ball with a breath of relief.”
Courtney gives a lot of credit to her dad, Tim Stewart. He’s the one who got her interested in the sport when she was in fifth grade, and he’s been coaching her to this day.
Bowling started out as something for Courtney and her dad to do together. Soon it became apparent she had a knack for the game, so her dad started coaching her a little more seriously.
“He has been my coach since I told him that I wanted to start bowling seven years ago, and has done nothing but support me 100 percent,” said Courtney. “He pushes me to do my best all the time, and while we have had our fair share of fights, there is no one else that has inspired me to be a better bowler as much as he has.”
A knee injury hampered her last year, and she spent the summer at the bowling alley, getting her leg stronger and improving her game so she could be at her best this season.
In fact, she worked on her mental approach to the game as much as her physical approach. It must have helped because she had a lot of obstacles to overcome in that final game of the tournament.
“All I could think all day was the same thing that my dad had been telling me since I started bowling in tournaments, ‘Good first shot, make your spares, avoid the splits, and the strikes will come.’”