Sawgrass Lanes erupted in wild cheers as Pamela Jones bowled the final frame of her 749-point series and clutched gold for the women’s 65-69 singles category. As fellow bowlers streamed over to congratulate Pam on her exceptional performance at the 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana she met each one with a giant hug. “If you don’t like hugs, you need to run from me,” she jokes.
While a 749 isn’t Pam’s series record (that’s an 813), she was thrilled to come back after not performing as well as hoped during the first two days of competition. “I felt like I was going to jump through the ceiling, I was ecstatic…I never thought I would be able to do this,” says Pam on her win.
Becoming a bowler helped Pam get through a dark time in her life. When Pam was in her 30s, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and the ensuing battle and loss impacted Pam deeply. “I didn’t even want to leave the house,” she shares.
Pam’s sister-in-law saw her struggling and asked Pam to fill in for another player on her bowling team for six weeks. The initial six weeks passed, then eight, and it was clear Pam would be a permanent member. “When I got out there to bowl, the people were so friendly and fun,” Pam says.
Developing positive relationships is a big draw of the sport for Pam, who was excited to reunite with her National Senior Games friends this year. “When I first came into practice, it was very emotional for me. I saw people I haven’t seen in three years,” says Pam “Seeing old friends was a wonderful thing, and making new friends was even better…I hope that those people will remain lifelong friends.”
Some of those new friends were her competitors, whom she quickly formed a special bond with during the series. The group is already discussing forming a team for the 2023 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh!
One of Pam’s first coaches molded her lasting perspective on the game. “…He’s the one who showed me the right way to throw a ball. The only thing he asked for in return was that when you have an opportunity, you give back to the sport in some way,” shares Pam. “That’s why I try to be the best person I can for everybody, if only to do what he asked, which is to pay it forward. That’s what it’s all about.”
Pam will still have a few more days to catch up with friends new and old as she competes in women’s doubles this week.