Rick Parschen, 69, Strongsville, Ohio
A 300 game is the dream of all bowlers, and most never achieve it. Rick Parschen has hit the mark many times, including posting a 300 score while raking in medals in each of his three appearances in National Senior Games since 2015.
Just how many does he have? “As of last Thursday, I have 147,” he says almost incredulously.
The soft-spoken retired music teacher also has 96 800 series on his resume, plus a slew of 299 scores strewn along the way in four-plus decades of rolling the rock. Rick bowled intramurals in high school and made his college team at (where else?) Bowling Green State University. He says it took him two years to bowl 200, and four and a half years after he graduated before he chalked up his first 300 in 1979.
The numbers are jaw-dropping, but Rick took it to another level after he seriously injured the gluteus medius muscle in his left leg two years ago. Unable to deliver the ball using his normal form, Rick was undaunted and learned to bowl off the opposite foot during rehab. How has that gone?
“Since February of last year, I have bowled four 300 games plus two 299 games off the wrong foot,” he says, adding with a chuckle, “That earned me the nickname Wrong Foot Ricky.” Rick has since made progress and recently returned to his normal bowling form. “I hope it lasts, but at least I have an option to go back to.”
With this talent, a pro career might have been an option for Rick, who played in some pro-am tournaments coming up but decided not to go for it. “I considered the rigors of the tour- you eat, you sleep, you bowl, that’s how it is,” he explains. “I kept my career as a high school music teacher and band director for 35 years. I felt I would have a more rewarding career to have an influence on these young lives, and it’s been an enjoyable experience.” Rick is currently in three leagues and coaches the bowling team at Padua Franciscan High School, the same school he graduated from.
Rick has competed in the US Bowling Congress since 1980 and discovered National Senior Games when they came to nearby Cleveland in 2013. He has even brought along his clarinet and played the National Anthem before competition each time. “It’s been a very uplifting experience. I’ve made great friends since 2013, many I never would have met elsewhere, and it’s like a reunion to see them again every two years.”
Now for the big question: How does Rick Parschen deal with the pressure as he is approaching a perfect score? “It has to be done one frame at a time,” he emphasizes. “Every frame is one step on the ladder, and you only look at the step in front of you and make sure to do the right things. If you look too far ahead and forget the step you’re on, you’ll miss it and fall on your chin.
“I remain as focused as I can and approach every game as if it’s the first time,” he continues. “I go through all the physical and mental motions to give myself the best chance, and if I execute I have a better than 50-50 shot it will be a strike.”
Rick is quick to add it is not automatic. “I tell people is there’s no entitlement in bowling. I’ve thrown good balls and got tapped and thrown lousy balls that turned into strikes. I just thank God for ones I get and work harder for the ones I don’t get. I’m humbled to have been given a great gift and avenues beyond my wildest dreams on how to go about it.”