Bowlers ready for Nationals

Lucas Punkari

The practice sessions at Plaza Lanes are all over and the now the actual competition can begin for four local bowlers.
Jeff Watts, Bob Petwanaqueb, and Rick and Carolyn Stamarski started on their quest towards a national title today in Gatineau, Que., as they are representing Northern Ontario at the 2011 Masters bowling national championships, which runs until Saturday.
For Watts, he’ll be looking to win a national title for the second year in a row, after helping the men’s teaching team to a ‘B’ division crown at last year’s tournament.
“It was such a blast when I won the gold last year and I would love to do it once again,” Watts enthused.
This year, Watts will join forces with Mike McNamara, Rob Aiken, Tom Williams and Shawn Nugent on the men’s tournament team, who are all scratch bowlers.
“I know them all,” Watts said.
“We all bowl different styles but we are all pretty much similar guys in our personalities, so we all get along pretty good,” Watts added.
For Watts, the biggest thing that he has been working on since qualifying for the Nationals at the provincial tournament in Timmins last month has been his consistency.
“I’ve been bowling for the last couple of weeks just to get warmed up,” Watts noted.
“I also went to the chiropractor this past Thursday just to make sure that I’m ready to go,” Watts added.
Meanwhile, Petwanaqueb, who is taking part in his sixth nationals, will be competing in the men’s singles event after a strong showing at the provincials in Timmins.
“I bowled extremely well there,” Petwanaqueb said.
“I just tried to shoot my normal game and concentrated on my key spots, and it all just seemed to come together,” Petwanaqueb added.
This will mark the second time that Petwanaqueb will be competing in the singles competition, withis last appearance in that event at the nationals occurring three years ago in Hamilton.
“The biggest thing that I learned there was how totally different to bowl by yourself than when you are bowling with a team,” Petwanaqueb explained.
“You cannot depend on your teammates to help you out. You have to do it all by yourself, and you also have to concentrate on what you are doing,” Petwanaqueb added.
As for the Stamarskis, Rick will be teaming up with Richard Lavallee, Edmund Bernier, Norm Randle and Bill McLachlan on the Teaching Men’s team, with Carolyn serving as the team’s coach.
“It’s a strong mix of guys really,” Rick, who is taking part in his sixth nationals, explained.
“There’s a couple of guys who are older than I am, which is a little bit unusual on a teaching team, and I’m the only bocce style bowler while everyone else shoots regularly,” Rick added.
The biggest challenge for the team though might be for Carolyn, who will be coaching players, other than Rick, that she doesn’t get a chance to watch on a regular basis.
“You get to see the other players once or maybe twice a year if you’re lucky, and you are usually bowling against them,” Carolyn, who is making her second trip to the nationals as a coach to go along with three other appearances as a competitor, explained
“You are usually focused on your game or your team’s game while your at an event, so when you coach with someone you haven’t seen that often, it’s harder to pick up on what they are doing right or what they might be doing wrong,” Carolyn added.
But if you ask all four members of the Fort Frances contingent, the thing that they are most looking forward to besides the competition, is the chance to hang out and see people that they don’t normally see.
“It’s just a good time had by all,” Rick explained.
“As a team, you get to socialize with people from all the other zones, and it really brings our whole Northern Ontario team together,” he added.