When it comes to five-pin bowling, Karole McDonnell knows her way around a lane.
The 29-year-old Elmira resident was a member of the six-woman Ontario squad that captured the ladies’ division crown at the Canadian Open Fivepin Bowling Championships last month in Surrey and Langley B.C., defeating Team Alberta by a combined score of 1,300 to 1,130 in the gold-medal match.
It was the team’s third straight national title, and McDonnell has been a valuable member of the team from the beginning.
“It’s been a different feeling,” she said of her three titles, noting that the team struggled to open the tournament back in 2009 when it was in Saskatoon, they were strong throughout the 2010 event in Winnipeg, but struggled again at the beginning of the most recent tournament, yet the team persevered and won all three times.
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“It’s just something we do, I can’t explain it,” McDonnell said of the team. The fact the team members all live relatively close together has certainly helped the team over the years develop strategy and a familiarity with one another.
Other members of the team include Casey Ramey and Kayla Smith of Brantford, Kayla-Marie Anderson of Six Nations, Christine Mair of Stratford and Kristi Lampman of Woodstock, whose father Andrew is the team’s coach.
“We’re a very tight group of girls,” McDonnell said with a smile.
To qualify as a member of the provincial team, players have to first compete in the zone qualifiers, consisting of a 20-game roll-off in December, with the top six bowlers chosen to represent the zone at the provincial championships held in Hamilton.
From there, the team proceeded to the national championships for the third straight year, which ran June 1-5.
While there, McDonnell had the highest average out of any of the bowlers in the ladies’ division with a 275 for the tournament – four pins higher than her teammate Lampman’s 271 average – and was named a tournament all-star as well.
With another title under her belt, McDonnell will continue to practice in preparation for National Sports Day in Canada, slated for Sept. 17 in Calgary, in which five-pin bowling has recently been accepted as an official sport. McDonnell will be on a mixed team drawn from the top bowlers at the national championships last month in an East vs. West matchup, and she does admit to being nervous about the tournament, since portions will be televised live.
For McDonnell, though, those nerves should be calmed the moment she steps onto the alley for the first match. Her parents, Karl and Mary Jordan, have owned Elmira Bowl since McDonnell was just four years old and she spent a lot of time around many competitive bowlers growing up, making it a natural part of her life.
Her love for bowling has yet to transfer from the Canadian five-pin game to the American 10-pin game with a heavier ball and more pins, though.
She says the skill involved in hitting smaller pins with a smaller ball is a big draw for her.
“And the holes in the balls scare me,” she adds with a laugh.