The faculty and staff bowling league at the Student Center has finally played host to a perfect game.
The feat was accomplished April 2 by Jack Yates, whose wife is a faculty member at SIUC. It was his first time reaching the 300 mark after 12 years in the Student Center league and 20 years of playing the game.
A ceremony Monday at the Student Center bowling alley to celebrate Yates’ achievement.
Faculty and staff have had a league at the Student Center’s bowling alley since 1961, said Bill Null, Student Center recreation manager, and Yates was the first person to bowl a 300.
“It’s the Student Center’s first, as far as faculty and staff, so for Jack it’s a big deal,” Null said. “Some people bowl forever and never get a 300 game.”
A 300 game requires the bowler to get a strike on every frame for 12 consecutive frames.
Null and Paul Deering, assistant recreation manager at the Student Center, have 50 years of experience in the bowling industry between them and have seen many 300 games. Deering said he has bowled around 25 perfect games himself. Both men agreed that each perfect game is a special event that every bowler strives for.
“I was 20 when I bowled my first one, and I was nervous,” Deering said. “I spent five years getting close but couldn’t get it because I thought about it too much.”
Yates said his success April 2 could be that he wasn’t thinking about a perfect game until just before he accomplished it.
“I actually had a really bad cold, and I had been taking a lot of medication,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling really great. I wasn’t paying very much attention, but I kept bowling strikes.”
Yates said the 10th and final frame was the first time he began to realize a perfect game was about to occur. In the 10th frame, the bowler must bowl three straight strikes in order to finish with a 300.
“I realized that I was close in the 10th frame, and I pulled it a little bit but still ended up with a strike,” Yates said. “After that, I was determined to do it. I have bowled nine in a row before, and the 10th frame had always gotten me. So as soon as I got the 10th, I knew I could do it.”
Following common tradition in bowling, fellow bowlers stopped to admire Yates’ every shot as he approached a perfect game.
Lucinda Vinson, a retired university employee and faculty and staff league member, said the excitement of watching a person approach the 300 mark is her favorite part of the sport.
“Watching a person bowl strike after strike, the anticipation of what is going to happen on the next ball has everybody’s heart standing still,” she said.
Yates said he continues to bowl at the Student Center’s facility because of its ambience.
“Everybody is family down here,” he said. “Nobody drinks or smokes. My 9-year old son has grown up in this building, watching on Monday nights. It’s a good atmosphere.”
Yates’ hot hand did not carry over to the next time he bowled, two nights later, when he said he had the his worst bowling night in five years. He said he didn’t mind the poor showing because he was still enjoying his victory.
“Eventually you get to the point where you’re ready to bowl another one,” he said. “I might be there already.”