Matt Herman stared down perfection, and came up one pin short.
While competing in the 2010 Show-Me State Games, Herman knew he was one strike away from bowling a perfect game, a score of 300. He tried to ignore the pressure. However, after 11 consecutive strikes, Herman’s nerves finally got the best of him.
He knocked down nine pins.
He won the gold medal. But he scored a 299.
“It was there, and there it went,” Herman said.
Despite this haunting memory, Herman, now 20, said bowling has had a positive effect on his life. Throughout his childhood, he grew to love the game through youth leagues sponsored by Columbia’s United States Bowling Congress Association.
The congress dedicates time and effort to provide bowlers in the area with an opportunity to participate in competitive bowling. For the past 20 years, Columbia members have hosted leagues and volunteered for the Show-Me State Games to share the sport they love with children and teens across Missouri.
Don Cope, 62, has been bowling for 50 years and volunteering as a USBC member for more than 20 years. In his time as a member, the organization has hosted leagues, tournaments, and has been instrumental in starting club bowling programs in both Columbia high schools and at Hallsville High School.
Cope, who still competes in local leagues, volunteers in order to give back to the “bowling community.” He said the long practice hours necessary to be a successful bowler, help teammates build close bonds and create a tight-knit community of bowlers throughout a town.
Events such as the Show-Me State Games help expand this sense of camaraderie to a state level.
Cody Wilson, of Rolla, has been bowling since he was 3 years old. Wilson, 18, travels about every weekend to participate in different competitions across Missouri.
“I get to meet kids from all over the state,” Wilson said.
Wilson and his teammate, Nathan Vagles, won the bronze medal in the teen doubles competition.
The final event of the competition, the awards ceremony, is Cope’s favorite part of volunteering.
“I love getting to see the look in a kid’s eye, when he gets a medal, and his hard work pays off,” Cope said.