Manchester’s Bobby Stemen Bowls First Perfect Game in Program History

By Seth Kinker,

The Manchester Bowling team is young, only four years old and still a club sport.

On Jan. 21, freshman Bobby Stemen bowled the first perfect game in program history at Jonesville.

Stemen got into bowling two years ago when his dad, Tim, got him a new 15-pound ball for his birthday after Stemen had been bowling with a 13-pound ball. From there, he decided to get better and keep improving.

“I’ve bowled with his dad in a league for many years,” said Manchester head coach Tracey Sheats on Stemen. “Our kids have both grown up together and we’ve seen them come up through the youth leagues. We all knew he was gonna be good.”

At first, then 13-year old Stemen just bowled casually on the weekends. Then over the summer of his first-year bowling he began to bowl in leagues that inadvertently helped him prepare for high school bowling, taking on sophomores, juniors, and seniors and placing around or above them.

“I don’t really know,” said Stemen, now 14, when asked what made him fall in love with the sport. It’s kind of like an addiction.”

In addition to the leagues preparing him for high school competition, it was just a matter of repetitions.

“I’d been practicing three times a week for high school and bowling on the weekends,” said Stemen on preparing for high school bowling. “Just bowling in general, all the time.”

Since arriving on the high school scene, Stemen has helped the Dutchmen to a 6-2 record thus far this year. He attributes his personal success to practice and being able to throw the ball faster as he’s aged.

Before Jan. 21, the closest Stemen had gotten to a perfect game was 245.

On Jan 21, with schools closed and the meet beginning earlier than usual, he was feeling fueled from a combination of a Big Mac, and pizza and mountain dew from the bowling alley.

After his very first strike Stemen told The Sun Times he realized he could bowl the perfect game. Stemen continued throwing strikes with nerves not setting in until the ninth frame.

“That’s when everyone starts waiting for you to throw,” said Stemen. “That’s when you get nervous. I stood up for my ball in the tenth fame and the entire alley was dead silent.”

“I thought I was gonna leave a ten pin,” added Stemen, who was moving his arms before the last strike. “I was loosening up because I was pretty tense. I just stood where I stood the last 11 balls, threw it at the same mark, and I struck.”

“I was just in shock,” said Stemen on his emotions after seeing the last pin fall. “I didn’t expect to bowl 300, especially in a high school league. Everyone was congratulating me, it was crazy.”

“I think that opened him up a bit, doing that, you know what I mean?” said Sheats of the reserved Stemen. “Normally he wouldn’t run around and high five everyone like that, he doesn’t smile like that all the time, he’s usually pretty serious. I had to tell him. ‘that’s the most I’ve ever seen you smile, you should do it more often.’”

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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