While many folks were spending the holidays at home with family or on vacation to somewhere warmer, 15-year-old Mason Yamada of Kenai was accomplishing something that many won’t ever do in their lifetime — bowl a perfect game.
Yamada competed in the Sean Rash Stars of the Future bowling tournament on Dec. 27 at the Jewel Lake Bowl in Anchorage, and in a six-game contest with a fellow bowler, hit the 300-game on his second try.
To bowl a perfect game, a player must knock down all 10 pins— a strike — for 12 consecutive frames, which results in a score of 300.
“I’ve been trying for the longest time to shoot one, and I was feeling sick the night before and didn’t get much rest,” Yamada recounted. “I just bowled, and it happened.”
Odds vary with ability, but for an average player, the odds of bowling a perfect game are 1 in 11,500. Depending on which statistician you talk you, that is rarer than making a hole-in-one in golf. Most professional bowlers might only do it once a year. Yamada has now joined that exclusive group.
“As soon as I hit the sixth frame, I just focused really hard,” Yamada said.
Yamada, who is home-schooled, said he was able to stay calm and relaxed because his father was sitting behind him and watching. Typically, Yamada is very nervous when he competes well.
“I didn’t see anybody, I don’t remember seeing anyone, not one person,” Yamada said. “It was the weirdest thing, but I stayed really relaxed, probably because my dad was watching. I was going back there and talking to him.”
When Yamada knocked down all the pins on his final bowl, he described the scene as chaotic.
“My dad had my mom on the phone already, and when I hit the strike, I was talking to her almost instantly,” he said. “It was a memorable day.”
In the other five games, Yamada bowled scores of 213, 203, 237, 246 and 202. He eventually ended up placing fourth in the tournament, and says he now averages a score of 200 a game.
Yamada said when he returned home, he ended up bowling a 289 on the Sunday after the perfect game. This time, his mother was present.
“I was so glad I could do it for her so she could see,” he said.
In addition to the 300 game, Yamada received a total of $900 in scholarships — $500 of that for being the first Kenai player to bowl a perfect game. In three of the major tournaments he competed in 2012, he won two.
“I want to go to college and bowl, I think about it daily,” he said. “One of my buddies is bowling in college, and that’s something I’ve wanted to do forever.”
Yamada will continue his bowling career this summer when he leaves for Detroit in July to compete in the Under-20 national tournament, which had over 900 competitors last year.