Donna Heath bowled duckpins as a teen-ager and then gave up the game until "about six years ago."
Currently, she bowls in a single league, the Sunday mixed at Fair Lanes Arbutus, where she carries a 107 average; her high game is 163, high series 370.
That's pretty much a picture of an average duckpin bowler who bowls for recreation and fun. And that was an accurate picture of Heath until she bowled in the Coors $15,000 Duckpin Classic.
Qualifying at the Arbutus center with a five-game set of 873, Heath earned a spot in the national finals at Turner's Long Meadow Bowl in Hagerstown on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1.
On Saturday she rolled six games and qualified for the Sunday morning semifinals. After the three semifinals games (with a total of 1,554 for the nine games), Heath was seeded in fourth place for the Sunday afternoon stepladder finals.
"I was just thrilled to death to get this far," Heath said. "It was something that I did by myself and I never thought that I could do it."
In her first match Heath fired a scratch game of 123 against Sue Swann of Town Hall Lanes, Rhode Island. With her 50 handicap pins that totaled 173 against Swann's 151.
Her second match against Yvonne Allen from Mac's Bowlaway, Rhode Island, found her throwing a 165 game to win.
In the third match, against Diane Sicca of Middlesex, she came within three pins of victory. Sicca fired a scratch game of 170, adding 21 handicap pins for 191. Heath shot a 139 scratch game, added 50 handicap pins, and came up with a total of 189. Sicca was defeated in the last match, 186-166, by Denise Lampinski of Rhode Island.
But that third-place finish was worth $500 to Heath.
"And it's not really the money that counts," Heath said. "It's just doing it that's so great. I bowled like I never bowled before in that tournament and that's what I'll always remember."
And after the thrill and excitement and sheer physical activity of bowling six tough games on Saturday, three more action-packed games Sunday morning and three cliffhanger games in the finals on Sunday afternoon, Heath hurried back to Arbutus. For her Sunday evening league bowling.
Tunis retiring from lanes
After 21 years with the Bowl America organization, including 17 years as manager of the Reisterstown center, Lily Tunis is leaving.
"I have just one regret," she said. "I won't be here to watch the little ones that are on the lanes now grow up.
"Before I was with Bowl America I was with The Bowler in Cumberland for 10 years. And before that I was with the Normandy Lanes in St Louis for two years. It's enough."
The Cumberland native and current resident of Ellicott City will be moving to Ocean Pines at the end of next month; officially she'll retire on June 12.
A past president of the Maryland State Duckpin Proprietors Association, past president of the Baltimore City Duckpin Proprietors Association and current board member of the National Duckpin Association, she has done enough.
And the future?
"I'll do as little as possible," Tunis laughed, and then went on to say that she and her husband, Bud, have bought bicycles and intend to play tennis and golf and "we'll bowl either at Ocean Pines or Salisbury."
And they'll put some numbers up when they bowl; Bud carries a 180-plus average and Lily is still in the 130s.
"My average has been dropping because of my bad shoulder," she said. "The doctors say it will just continue to deteriorate and they say to just give up bowling, but, of course, I won't."
Knowing Lily Tunis, come next September, you'll probably find her on the lanes somewhere on the Eastern Shore, teaching youngsters how to bowl.
National Amateur Bowlers Inc will play host to a tournament at Crofton Bowling Centre, Friday-Monday, May 27-30.
The first-place prize is $3,000. Information: (410) 721-2401.