Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs bowler Joyce Hoekstra stood on the approach of the No. 27 lane at the Orchard Mesa bowling center in Grand Junction on Sunday, nervously preparing to roll the most important ball of her life.
"You could almost see her legs shaking," teammate Shane Jacobs said of Hoekstra.
"She took a long time before she threw it," another teammate, Char Clifford, added. "You could tell she was pretty tight, but she set it on the lane perfectly."
Hoekstra's 12th ball of the game powered down the lane, hooked into the pocket perfectly and knocked down all 10 pins, helping the Steamboat bowler secure her first 300 game.
It was also the first time a woman has thrown a sanctioned, perfect game in Grand Junction. She became the first women in a sanctioned league in Steamboat to roll a 300.
The only other bowler to accomplish the feat is Dewey Whitecotton. He has thrown two perfect games at the Snow Bowl and three during his career.
"I had sweaty palms, shaky knees and the whole deal," Hoekstra said.
The adrenaline-induced symptoms are common among most bowlers who have thrown 11 strikes in a row. Despite Hoekstra's 22 years of experience with the game, this was the first time she had found herself in this position.
"After I threw my seventh one (strike) in a row I knew it could happen," Hoekstra said. "I tried not to think about it. I would go back and talk to my teammates between balls and do anything to keep my mind off of the score."
Hoekstra, who bowls in several leagues during the winter, keeps on top of her game in the summer by bowling in the local mud-season league and the regional travel league. The mud-season league came to an end a couple of weeks ago, but the travel league will continue through September.
The travel league meets once a month at a different bowling center in western Colorado. It includes 12 teams from towns like Rifle, Grand Junction, Leadville and Dillon. Steamboat's bowling center, the Snow Bowl, has three teams in the league. Hoekstra bowls in the league with Whitecotton, Jacobs and Clifford.
"We just tried to stay out of the way," Jacobs said. "Nobody wanted to mention the score or do anything to mess up her string."
Clifford said the teammates discussed everyday stuff during the game. Everybody knew about the run, but they didn't want to add to the pressure by making it obvious to Hoekstra.
"Nobody wanted to go up to her and say 'Oh my God, you've got nine in a row," Clifford said. "You just don't do that in bowling."
Hoekstra carried a 187 average in the travel league and said her highest game before Sunday was a 286 game rolled in Steamboat during a national tournament qualifier. The Grand Junction Women's Bowling Association confirmed that Hoekstra's score was the first 300 thrown by a woman in the city of Grand Junction, which has has two good-sized bowling centers. Grand Junction bowler Kristy Armour held the previous high of 299 for a single game. Five men have rolled 300 games at the Orchard Mesa Lanes.
"She looked pretty nervous on the approach in the tenth frame," fellow travel league bowler Jane Garrison said. Garrison was bowling on the lanes next to Hoekstra's team. None of the local players would step up to bowl when Hoekstra was on the lane.
"It was a big deal. It's her first 300 game and the first one at that house ever thrown by a woman," Garrison said.
The high game came at the end of a long day for Hoekstra. The league normally bowls two series, or six straight games, when it meets.
"Nobody wants to travel that far and only bowl three games (a normal series), so we bowl two in a row," Garrison said.
The second series had started out pretty slow for Hoekstra after she rolled a 144 in her first game. But after that, things started to come around and by the final game of the series she had found the shot. She ended the series with a 621.
"Oh yeah, it's my favorite house right now," Hoekstra said of the Grand Junction center. "But it was a pretty strange set."
In her final game, Hoekstra said things came almost automatically.
"I didn't think about it too much, I just kept rolling the ball and the strikes just came naturally," Hoekstra said.
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail him at email@example.com