College Athlete of the Week: Jordan Plunkett
Player: Jordan Plunkett
Year, school: Junior, Midlands (Neb.) University
Hometown: Everett (Montessori School of Snohomish County)
What he did: Led the Warriors to a seventh-place finish USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships. Plunkett, who typically bowls in the No. 3 slot for Midlands, also helped his team take second in the nation at the NAIA tournament a few weeks earlier.
What's next: Midlands bowling wrapped up its season at the USBC Championships.
First off, maybe you could tell us about the national tournament -- the format, what you scored, all of that.
We took seventh at nationals, although we finished higher than that in a lot of tournaments before that. I didn't really have a score because we use what's called the Baker Format, which takes top five bowlers, with each of them bowling two frames. So you could be bowling the first frame and the sixth frame, the second and the seventh, and so on. So there's not one individual score.
Have to say, you're the first bowler to be named Athlete of the Week. What kind of competition is out there in collegiate bowling?
There are quite a few tournaments all over the country. Since I'm located in Nebraska right now, we concentrate mostly on the Midwest tournaments. But we did go to one in Texas. We go to tournaments every other weekend.
In terms of competition, how does it compare to, say, a weekend bowling league?
Oh, it's very intense -- especially in the latter stages of a tournament. Teams get really pumped up. On your approach, all your teammates are right behind us, yelling and cheering. So it can be pretty exciting.
Going all the way back to your youth, what's the best score you've ever rolled?
I've had five 300 games.
Really. When was your last one?
Four years ago now. It's been awhile.
What's that like, in the tenth frame, when you're bowling for a 300?
It's pretty exhilarating. I had four 299s before I got to 300. So the first one, it was just a relief, just getting the monkey off my back. After that, after you've already got it, there's not quite as much pressure.
Have you ever had a shot at a perfect game and lost it in the final frame?
All of my 299s came on the final frame. Yeah.
Ooh. That's tough. How about the last time you rolled a gutter ball?
With college and higher, they're allowed to oil the lanes. They can make adjustments for the bowlers, and there's one place we bowl where you have to put it on a particular part of the lane, in one particular place pretty close to the gutter to have your best chance. So I've done it two to three times when we're playing there. I have to say the last time it happened was this year.
And at your level of bowling, how do people react to a gutter ball?
You just turn around, and there's a lot of giggling. You have to laugh about it.
Midland has football, basketball, baseball, wrestling and all the other traditional sports. How are bowlers viewed in the athletic department there?
This year, we had kind of a breakthrough. There are three of us from the Northwest -- my buddy Tyler Cruz and I went there from the Northwest -- and it's by far the best the bowling team has ever done. We're gaining more and more recognition. The girls took second, and they've gotten a lot of attention, and that's great for the program. People are seeing what we can do for the school in terms of recognition.
Are there any misconceptions out there about bowling? As far as bowlers being athletes.
I guess that's something we have to always defend: is it a sport? People think you just take a ball and throw it down the lane, but there's so much more to it. There's oil on the lane, which you have to adjust to, there's ball selection, there are angles, the angle of the lane, the loft of the ball, the ball placement. There's a lot to it. People don't think of it as a sport because someone can't just go out, pick up a ball and be successful. You have to work at it to be good. In football and basketball, you can go out and be a good athlete, but with bowling, you have to take time to do it. People don't usually have the patience for that.
What's your background in bowling? When did you start?
When I was 10 years old. I just joined because my mom said I needed to do something. So I started in a Saturday morning league at Glacier Lanes in Everett. I was there about five or six years before I started bowling at Evergreen Lanes. Then I started joining youth tournaments and all that. I have to say, some of my best friends in the world I met through bowling.
I have to admit, the Montessori School of Snohomish County is a new one to me. How was it different from a traditional school?
It's a private school. Of course, it's a Montessori. Not many offer it at the high school level. Once we got to the high school level, it was more like home schooling. I graduated with six people. Then I did Running Start. I did that at Edmonds CC, and I graduated with my two-year degree.
How old were you when you did Running Start?
I was 15 when I went to Running Start. I was 18 when I graduated (from community college).
What was that like, being in college at such a young age?
The big difference for me was that the teacher wouldn't be there for you all the time. You'd go to class, get your homework and go. The responsibility was on us. I realized that I have to take care of myself. There's no one there to watch and make sure I'm doing the work.
And then you went to Seattle Central Community College, which is in the heart of Seattle's Capitol Hill district. Was that an eye-opener?
Yeah, definitely. I've never seen anything like it. The people are very interesting. They're very comfortable with themselves there, very comfortable with their sexuality. It was a very big eye-opener. I did the sign-language interpreter program, and I got my certification for sign language there.
Why sign language?
I grew up in a church where there were a few deaf people, and it fascinated me that they could talk with their hands. I got to college, and I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I took a few classes in it and just kept on going. It wasn't something I planned on doing, and I don't know how far I'll go with it.
How did you find our about Midland's bowling program?
My friend, Tyler, was going there, and I'm pretty close to him. I never considered college bowling because none of my friends were doing that. All of a sudden, a some kids a couple of years younger than me were talking about it. I was thinking: maybe I'll go now; you've still got four years of eligibility, no matter how old you are. So I decided maybe to give it a shot now. I couldn't have told you I'd be in Nebraska. If you'd have said that a year ago, I'd have thought it was crazy.
Do you mind if I ask how old you are?
Are you one of the oldest members of the team?
I am the oldest one on the team. They call me "Daddy." My name's Plunkett, so some of them call me Plunk Daddy. But next year, they're brining in a couple of guys who are older.
OK, a few quick-hit questions now. Best bowling scene in a movie.
Oh, man. Probably Kingpin. (Laughs) I don't know if I could pick a scene. Maybe the one where he bowls with his synthetic hand, and it comes of, and he gets a strike.
Best trash-talk to someone who's about to bowl.
We don't really trash-talk as someone's about to bowl. Maybe after. If you get a strike, maybe you give them a 'C'mon!' Maybe you give them a face that says C'mon. That's how we trash-talk.
And final one here. Best response to someone who says bowlers aren't athletes.
Come on out and let's bowl. Show me what you've got. If it's so easy, let's go do it.
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