RENO, Nev. - Despite an ominous start to her United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships career, Dorothy Thompson of Shelby Township, Mich., persevered to march down the National Bowling Stadium's Center Aisle for her 50th tournament appearance Sunday.
Thompson, a member of the Metro Detroit and Michigan State USBC Women's Bowling Association Halls of Fame, made her USBC Women's Championships debut at the 1953 event in Detroit. Although it took her nine more years to make her second appearance, she jumped back on board in 1963 and hasn't missed the tournament since 1966. Throughout her travels, she has competed in 38 cities in 26 different states.
She was escorted down Center Aisle by Women's Championships Media Relations Specialist Aaron Smith and received a plaque, gold medallion and necklace to commemorate the milestone.
"It was quite thrilling, especially the presentation when I received my awards," Thompson said. "This morning, I called my husband to tell him all about it."
Thompson has collected many memories over the course of her career and made a lot of friends as well. The camaraderie and hospitality has kept her coming back year after year, despite a forgettable first frame in her inaugural Women's Championships appearance nearly 60 years ago. Her first shot in competition was a gutter ball. She laughs recalling the event, seeing it as proof of her persistence on the lanes.
"I threw the ball right in the gutter," Thompson said. "But I came back from it. I always do. Even today, I was over my average in singles. I never would have thought I'd be at 50 tournaments after that first shot, but here I am."
The 89-year-old right-hander was joined on the lanes by her daughters, Sharon Schildroth and Constance Fordyce, who made their 38th and 34th Women's Championships appearances, respectively. Thompson cherished the moment her daughters were able to join her at the event and has always enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with them on the lanes.
"I look forward to it every year," Thompson said. "The tournament has become a family affair."
In her 50th appearance, Thompson entered the tournament with a 156 average, which placed her in the Ruby Division. She rolled a 551 series in singles, 528 in team and a 505 in doubles for a 1,584 all-events total. All scores include handicap.
The Ruby Division includes bowlers with averages between 150 and 179, with handicap based on 100 percent of 180.
Presenting sponsors for the 2012 USBC Women's Championships are Circus Circus, Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nev. Other sponsors include Harrah's Reno Casino, official brackets sponsor, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Humana, official registration sponsor, Steltronic, official scoring system, and supporting sponsors Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, Sands Regency Casino Hotel and Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa and MyBowlingVacation.com.