Mr. Clutch

It’s pretty well-known (mostly because I keep reminding everyone haha) that Jake won the silver medal for his age group in the Provincial Bowling Championships last month in Kelowna. That means he’s the second-best 11 year-old boy bowler in BC!

Needless to say, we’re very proud of him. Especially considering that he really only started bowling last September. So to go from a beginner to a silver medallist in just seven months is quite an accomplishment.

Believe it or not, bowling is an extremely mental game. To do well you need good concentration, you need to adjust to lane conditions, and you need to be able to block out distractions.

You need to be clutch.

Let the good times roll


When I look back at Jake’s road to the silver medal, it’s pretty amazing just how clutch he was.

On Day 1 (Saturday), there were 11 bowlers in his division and only the top five would advance to Sunday. Jake started well with a 143 and 136 in his first two games and was sitting in third place. Jake had a third game of 107 before rebounding with scores of 122 and 135 in his next two games. Heading into the sixth and final game, he was sitting in sixth place, 10 pins out of the all-important fifth spot.

Wouldn’t you know it, it came down the very last frame. The fifth place boy had already finished his game, and so he – along with many others – watched Jake finish his game. Going into the final frame, Jake needed seven pins to tie the boy in fifth place, and eight pins to pass him. So of course, Jake hit exactly seven pins with his first ball.

Jake was well aware that the top five PLUS TIES would advance to Sunday. A couple of boys (including the boy who was in fifth) whispered to Jake to remind him that ties go through. I could tell that Jake was considering guttering his second ball to allow the other guy to go through as well (he happened to be Jake’s teammate in Richmond).

Jake asked me what he should do. Admittedly, I was caught off-guard and thus I hastily and predictably answered “Do what you think is right.” So much for giving my son clear advice haha.

Jake then asked his coach what he should do. Without hesitation, the coach told Jake to do his best. So Jake easily made the spare and then hit a strike with his final ball to finish in fifth place by 13 pins. Jake clutched up when he needed to. And he was off to the finals on Sunday.

We enjoyed a nice dinner at a local restaurant that evening, and my good friend Karen made this wonderful picture of Jake to wish him good luck. Seemingly on fire, this picture was a good foreshadowing of Sunday.

“Jake on Fire” by Karen Poon


Enjoying a nice family dinner
Enjoying a nice family dinner

We returned to the bowling alley on Sunday morning for the finals. Jake bowled a 122 in his first game and sat in fifth out of five bowlers after one game. He bowled a 111 in his second game, pushing him ever further down the standings. Game three was better as he scored a 134 and then he played unbelievably in game four, bowling a 189. In game five, Jake bowled a 138.

Heading into the final game, Jake was sitting in fourth place and things weren’t looking great for him to medal. He was 31 pins behind third place and a seemingly insurmountable 50 pins behind second place.

Once the final game started, Jake immediately channeled his inner-clutchness.

If he didn’t bowl a strike, he hit a spare. And when it wasn’t a spare, it was a strike. As some of the other boys around him started to wither physically, mentally, and emotionally, Jake got stronger. As Jake made mark after mark, many bowlers from other lanes came over to watch the end of the match. It was getting exciting, and there was a buzz in the air. We tried our best to track the scores without calculators as we knew Jake was getting close to placing in the top three.

Going into the final two frames, we knew he was within striking distance. Knowing he was close, Jake started to get nervous. I called him over and told him to do his best and that I was proud of him no matter what.  I was confident that this advice was better than what I gave him the previous day haha.

Jake got a strike in the ninth frame setting up the dramatic finish. He made a spare in the tenth frame as we all frantically did mental math. Then, much like he had been doing all game, Jake bowled a perfect shot with his final ball and made a strike. He gave his signature fist pump as we all stared at the screens displaying the scores.

After what felt like an eternity, the screen showed Jake’s final game score of 190 and his six-game total of 884. I immediately looked for the second-place total to see how far back Jake was. The problem was, I only saw one boy with a higher six-game total.

To our astonishment, Jake not only passed the third-place boy, he also leap-frogged the second-place boy to capture the silver medal. We were surprised, elated, and beaming with pride. I’m pretty sure I yelled in my best “Canucks just scored a big goal” voice while Gail, Sean, and Kayla started cheering.

Silver medal!
Silver medal!

Jake could tell from our reaction that something special had happened. With his strong game of 190, he actually finished 11 pins ahead of third and 19 pins ahead of fourth. All because of his last two frames.

And just 24 hours earlier, he qualified for the finals in the final frame of 60.

That’s just what you do when you’re Mr. Clutch.

PS: Speaking of clutch, I won the 50/50 draw on Saturday. Paid for our gas to get to Kelowna and back home!

Jake’s championship form. #strikeitup

A video posted by Clayton Imoo (@claytonimoo) on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *