CAMANCHE — It wasn’t a bowl of Wheaties in the morning, not a secret pre-game ritual, nor some late change she made in her game.
Camanche junior Michelle Stewart bowled a 300 thanks to the ladies who have her back every single day.
“Honestly, I have a lot of support from my girls team and they help me a lot, and my coach,” Stewart said. “My freshman year, I struggled a lot bowling — I barely shot a 200. I worked a lot throughout the year and last year to get myself here.”
Stewart rolled a 300 during the Indians’ win over Clinton Monday night at Imperial Lanes, the first of her career. She shot a 300-181 — 481 to lead the Indians on the day.
“What a way to start out,” Camanche coach Brad Weber said. “She didn’t even seem that nervous. She said she was nervous as could be, but all three shots were right in the pocket, so that’s great for her. She’s ecstatic. She had a little bit of adrenaline going starting the second game after doing that, but she bowled really well — 481, that’s a big score.”
Though she didn’t look nervous, Stewart said she wasn’t exactly calm.
“Very nerve-wracking,” Stewart said. “I was shaking the whole time. I’ve never shot anything close to that. I’ve only shot a 235 and all of a sudden, I shoot a 300, so it was pretty nerve-wracking, but I had a lot of support tonight, so I felt very loved.”
Stewart rolled the 300 after two-and-a-half years of hard work, as she had a rocky start to her bowling career. During that time period, Stewart worked on her approach and fine-tuned her shot, as she used to throw across her body but made the correction to improve her scores.
Now, she’s more confident than ever.
“My eighth-grade year, I shot really well, but then I came in freshman year on the team and I messed myself up, but I turned it around and I fixed myself,” she said.
Weber said that kind of start is not uncommon.
“We’ve had a lot of kids on this team, when they’re in their freshman year, they think they can’t figure it out, but as they get going, by the time they’re seniors, you’re amazed at what they can do,” Weber said. “Usually, the junior and senior year they really step it up. Michelle came in not really bowling a whole lot, got on the junior bowling program, got on the team and has just progressed better and better and better.
“We’ve got two real good juniors and two real good seniors on the team right now and two freshmen, so we’ve got a mixed bag — which is okay, you want that mixture. The nice thing is, the freshmen are struggling a little, but for Michelle, to see where she was struggling to where she is now — she can tell them and they can see it today with the 300 game. That’s the way we want it to work.”
Stewart credits the team culture for her success, especially during the strange times everyone now lives in.
“I think we’ve gotten closer,” Stewart said. “We can’t be around other people, but we’re around the team a lot. We get to work with each other and help each other. The freshmen came in and we had to make sure they’re okay, and they’re bowling good — it’s just fun.”
Stewart has gotten a taste of the state meet in the past. That’s the ultimate goal this year.
After Monday night, she knows the only way they can make it there is by doing it together.
“I’m really hoping that we get to go to state,” Stewart said. “That’s my goal. Last year, we struggled a bit and missed by six pins and this year I’m really hoping we get to make it. We had one girl, Kaylee Tebbe, make it to state, so we all got to go see her and support her, and got the experience.
“We’re all excited to go this year.”