ARLINGTON, Texas – Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, has been bowling long enough to know when her physical game is where it needs to be, but she also understands that throwing the ball well doesn’t always translate to success.
Statistically, the 38-year-old right-hander’s 2019 season on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour was a good one, and she met most of her personal goals. However, despite being ranked in the top 12 in every category, she was not able to find the winner’s circle.
Comfortable with everything physically, Parkin decided to try a different approach to get herself to the next level, and she began regular sessions with mental performance coach Brian Cain, whom she’d previously worked with through the Team USA bowling program.
“I felt like at the end of the last PWBA season, I met a lot of my goals and physically was bowling well, but I wasn’t able to win,” said Parkin, whose best finish in 2019 was a second-place effort at the PWBA Sonoma County Open, where she was the top seed for the championship round. “I really needed to find this next little step to help me get closer to it. I believed in the things Brian had to say when he was working with Team USA, so I decided to do more on my own.”
Parkin and Cain both have ties to California State University, Fullerton, so there’s some additional familiarity there. They have been having weekly sessions, and Parkin’s daily schedule includes exercises that help her mental training and sharpness.
Though her latest training regimen hasn’t necessarily been battle tested yet, Parkin will get to gauge her progress during the upcoming Professional Bowlers Association League, where she’ll compete as part of the Miami Waves franchise.
The Waves and Phoenix Fury are the two all-female teams debuting in the PBA League this year as part of an expansion that brought the field from a traditional eight teams up to 12.
She will be joined on the lanes at Bowlero Centreville in Centreville, Virginia, by Clara Guerrero, Danielle McEwan, Dasha Kovalova and Liz Kuhlkin, while the Phoenix Fury roster will include Stefanie Johnson, Liz Johnson, Shannon O’Keefe, Jordan Richard and Maria José Rodriguez.
Bob Learn Jr., a PBA champion and member of the 2020 United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame class, is the Miami Waves manager, and the Fury is being led by USBC Hall of Famer and 10-time PWBA Tour titlist Kim Kearney.
Qualifying at Bowlero Centreville is scheduled to begin Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern and will be broadcast live on FloBowling. Competition will move to FS1 starting Sunday at noon Eastern, with the Anthony Division quarterfinals getting head-to-head match play underway. The championship match will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Parkin is as familiar with competing against the men as anyone, and she’s hoping to use that experience to her team’s advantage.
Prior to embarking on her professional journey, Parkin bowled half of her collegiate career with the men’s team because there weren’t enough women to field a women’s team. She then became the first woman to join the PBA (2004).
“From the time the PBA announced the PBA League, I really wanted to be a part of it, and I’m excited to get that opportunity,” said Parkin, the first woman to reach three PBA regional titles. “I have been bowling against the guys for so many years, so I have insight into how the lanes may transition, and that’s a bonus Danielle, Clara and I can bring to the team.”
McEwan and Guerrero both have been familiar faces at PBA events, while Kuhlkin and Kovalova both are recently removed from stellar collegiate careers at Nebraska and Wichita State, respectively.
“Our team has a lot of competitiveness and comfort in the team environment,” Parkin said. “Our team is diverse with shot makers and great spare shooters, and I think both are huge in this format. We also have strength in playing the lanes a little straighter, so we’ll be able to create our own little funnel and help the lanes work for us.”
The 12 teams in the PBA League this year will feature the top stars from both the PBA Tour and PWBA Tour. For the race to the Elias Cup, the coveted prize of the PBA League, the teams will be split into two divisions – Carter and Anthony – named after two of the sport’s greatest competitors, Don Carter and Earl Anthony.
The Miami Waves will compete in the Anthony Division, and the Phoenix Fury will be in the Carter Division.
With much of the PBA League competition being broadcast on TV, Parkin will be right at home. And, with the featured Baker format, each player only will get to throw two shots each game, making every opportunity to step onto the approach that much more important.
“I love pressure situations and throwing shots when they matter most, and this whole event is pressure,” said Parkin, the 2011 USBC Queens champion. “I absolutely love being under the TV lights. It brings really good adrenaline and nerves, but I don’t get nervous, if that makes sense. I would rather be in a quiet bowling center or TV set with everyone watching. I also love letting the crowd empower me. This event will be unique, though, since there will be TV but no crowd.”
The lack of an on-site audience is all part of the precautions required for competition in a COVID-19 world.
Parkin’s home state of California has been one of the most impacted by COVID-19 regulations this year, and while the situation has affected her and her husband, Drew, from a business perspective, she still has been able to practice regularly at a local center that houses one of their seven Parkin’s Bowling Supply pro shops.
Bowling centers in California have been closed for most of the last six months, though some were able to open for a brief period along the way. Regardless, Parkin has frequented Oak Tree Lanes in Diamond Bar, California, to make sure her game stays physically sound.
“I feel like during all of this, looking for opportunities and staying positive has been important,” Parkin said. “We’ve done everything and anything to be able to get government aid from a business perspective, and it was really important to make sure our employees are taken care of. Through it all, I’ve been fortunate to be able to continue bowling, and Drew even used the time to create a tournament bowling club.”
Drew Parkin’s Elite Bowling Club has featured more than a half-dozen sold-out events, which must be held at the closest open bowling center, which is Canyon Lanes, located about two hours away on the Morongo Indian Reservation.
Now, with her physical and mental games sharp and Parkin’s Bowling Supply taken care of, Parkin is ready to handle business with her teammates in Virginia. She feels her strengths going in are being a good communicator and her ability to help keep everyone positive.
“Since the PWBA Tour season ended, I’ve been working really hard, and I’m excited to be putting on the team jersey and being back on TV,” Parkin said. “I can’t wait to be on the lanes with my teammates, and I’m most looking forward to us beating the guys.”
The Portland Lumberjacks, led by USBC Hall of Famer Tim Mack, hoisted the Elias Cup in 2019. The team included the 2019 Mark Roth PBA League Most Valuable Player Wes Malott, Kris Prather, Kyle Troup, Ryan Ciminelli and Mitch Hupé.
In 2020, Mack’s team will include Malott, Prather, Troup, Packy Hanrahan and Sweden’s Martin Larsen.