What is the winning formula for state champion bowler Shannon Bailey, Class of ’15? There is no formula. She just bowls.
Sure, she has some good habits -- not that she would try to offer you advice. She listens to her coach. If something’s not working, she makes a small adjustment. She doesn’t worry about her competitors and doesn’t waste time looking at scores. For luck, she wears her Annie Wright green tie around her wrist.
Shannon started bowling when she was three and joined her first youth league, in New River, North Carolina, when she was six. She still has her Minnie Mouse bowling ball from back then. The family lived at Camp Le Jeune, where her father, a marine corps helicopter pilot, was stationed. Shannon continued to bowl off and on for youth leagues, even when the family moved to Okinawa, Japan, for two years. When they moved to Tacoma last summer, Shannon started at Annie Wright Upper School as a junior and found a youth bowling league at Tower Lanes.
It was there that Shannon met the Wilson High School bowling team. Because she lives in the Wilson school district in North Tacoma, Shannon was qualified to join. It had never occurred to her to bowl as a high school sport -- she had always played in youth leagues outside of school -- and joining another school’s team could seem threatening or at least awkward for any adolescent. But Shannon was up for the challenge and the team was welcoming, embracing her as one of their own.
“The thing that most impressed me about Shannon is she’s very coachable,” said Wilson’s head bowling coach, Ken Richardson. “She’s open to everything. Right from the first day she would listen to me and take my suggestions.”
Shannon went on to become the Washington State 3A/2A Girls’ Bowling Champion last February. She was also honored as a Tacoma Athletic Commission Athlete of the Year and earned the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Outstanding Scholastic Award.
Shannon’s mother, Jennie Bailey, attributes Shannon’s success to her focus on the task at hand. “She was bowling for herself - not to be the state champion,” she said. “She doesn’t care that others are doing well. She doesn’t focus on them.”
Coach Richardson agrees. Describing the state championship, he said, “Shannon bowled out of her mind, but it was almost like she was oblivious to what was going on...Shannon threw 247 on the last game to win the state title, and the whole time, she’s like, ‘whatever.’”
Shannon attributes her success to having the support of her team behind her, but also acknowledges her ability to deflect stress. “You can’t let the pressure get to you,” she said. “You’ve got to go to your happy place.”