The number 300. It may be the address of your home. It may be the amount of times you have watched your favorite movie. When it comes to bowling, 300 is a sacred number - the number of perfection. For Liberty High School senior Marissa Simon, bowling her first sanctioned 300 game in a match against Austintown Fitch on Jan. 16 was both exhilarating and nerve-racking.
"It was very exciting. I was really nervous though," Simon said. "I had the front nine. I got to the 10th and threw the first ball. I turn around and there is a whole crowd of people.
"Just the all eyes on you make you really nervous. I was shaking, I couldn't feel my knees. I had to put all of that aside and focus on that one shot, and I did. I got the last ball, the last strike to get the 300 game. It was so exciting, probably the best moment in my life, easily right now."
Sectionals begin today. Marissa is playing at an extraordinary level, bowling an average of 205 on the season. She said that in order to advance to districts, and ultimately state, she needs to have a positive mentality.
"Bowling is a mental game. I was struggling with the mental game," Simon said. "My coach helped me out a lot with that. I learned in order to focus, I need to take a deep breath, go up and throw your shot. Don't worry about what you're going to get or what you threw the last frame. Just take the game one step at a time."
Liberty girls bowling coach Jimmy Cheff said the mental aspect of Marissa's game is what she improved on the most this season.
"Mentally is where she has made the biggest gain," Cheff said. "In the past when she struggled a little bit, she would then shut it down. Now she pushes herself harder when she's struggling and overcomes that."
Besides being mentally prepared for the tournaments, Simon said that she also needs to bowl consistently.
"I wasn't really consistent coming into this year," Simon said. "I wasn't consistent on the lane hitting my mark. It is something that I worked on."
In the past two years, Simon has contended in the state tournaments in bowling. Simon and Cheff believe that experience is valuable for a tournament run.
"If she makes her spares, and she plays to her potential, she won't have a problem making it to the state level," Cheff said "Marissa has been there before, she knows what it takes."
"From going to state, I learned a lot and know what to expect," Simon said. "Like I said before, consistency and my mental game was a big thing for me, knowing that I have improved with both, that should help me more into this year. I'm going to bowl my game. Whatever happens, happens."