It turns out the path to Carnegie Hall and Rockford’s Cherry Bowl — the home of the IHSA state girls bowling tournament — share something in common.
To get there, it takes practice, practice, practice.
La Salle-Peru senior Jessica Temple proved the old adage this winter as she used a dedicated offseason to fuel a successful postseason and earn her second consecutive trip to the Cherry Bowl, where she closed out her four-year career with an area-best 26th-place finish at state.
For her accomplishments, Temple is the 2012-13 NewsTribune Girls Bowler of the Year, the second-straight season the L-P senior standout has won the honor.
“(To make) the strides she has made since freshman year, she has put in a lot of time, a lot of practice,” said L-P coach Terry Pytel of his four-year varsity bowler. “She worked on her delivery, getting the ball over the foul line, and just her accuracy of getting the ball into the pocket. That led to more strikes, higher scores, and she really concentrated on her spares.
“Her concentration really picked up this year. She wanted to make state again, she wanted to do well — and she did it.”
Temple said that she is prone to worry, especially on the lanes. She laughs that she doesn’t know if she will ever be able to finish off a 300 game due to her overactive nerves.
“I shot a 279 at the Morris tournament this year and that last ball my hand was shaking like no other,” she chuckled.
So to take as much of the pressure off as possible before this season, she practiced.
She traveled back and forth to Rockford’s Cherry Bowl last summer for sport-shot leagues and lessons and, as the season rolled on, she spent numerous solo sessions at the Illinois Valley Super Bowl refining her game.
“Just practice, practice, practice,” Temple said. “I knew sectionals were coming around and there was a lot of pressure on me — since I went (to state) as a junior — to just go (back to state). I wanted to end my senior year strong.”
Her hard work and dedication got her what she wanted as Temple earned a fourth-place finish at the Moline Sectional with a 1,252 series to punch her ticket back to state.
Once back at her home away from home at the Cherry Bowl, she rolled a 2,478 12-game state series to finish 26th.
The senior standout picked up her game in the postseason as she averaged 207.2 per game, nearly four pins above her 203.6 season average.
She said consistency forged through practice this summer — including the Tuesday night league at the Cherry Bow — set the stage for her strong senior campaign.
“I definitely practiced a lot over the summer. I did a lot of sport-shot leagues, in which the (oil) pattern is a lot harder out there on the lane. It makes you have to hit your marks,” Temple said. “You don’t strike as often, so if you don’t pick up your spares you don’t stay in the game. I felt that helped me tremendously,
“Especially freshman and sophomore and most of junior year, I don’t feel like I was consistent. This year, I felt like I hit 200 a lot more often than I did before and that was my goal, to average somewhere around there. I think I improved hitting my marks and hitting my spares leaps and bounds.”
Temple hopes to continue her bowling career in college if she can find the right program with her intended major of medical technology and administration.
But even if she can’t fin the right match — she has had several programs express interest in her services — don’t be surprised if you find Temple out on the lanes some day, practicing her game.
“I’ll probably bowl for the rest of my life,” she said.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NTSportsChris.