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Pressure of perfection doesn't bother Mathisen

Tanner Cook • Updated Jan 16, 2018 at 6:39 PM

Jerry Mathisen knows plenty about rolling a perfect game.

The Johnson City bowler has posted a 300 score nine times over a career that has spanned nearly 60 years. It all starts with that one pressure-filled moment, that first release of the ball when all eyes are squarely on you.

“The first one is always the hardest one,” Mathisen said. “Everyone just stops what they’re doing at the alley and you’re the only one bowling. It puts a lot of pressure on you the first time, but after that, you know what’s coming.”

At age 75 and with nearly 60 years of bowling experience, he’s still going strong. He has one of four perfect games this season at the Hap & Harry’s Monday Night Men’s League at Holiday Lanes.

Over his many years of rolling the ball down the lanes, he has eight other games of 300, but does not count that as his biggest accomplishment. He finds it more impressive to be consistent over a three-game series.

“I had a score of 832 one time (for three games) and did not have a single perfect game,” he said. “Sometimes, after you roll a 300, the lane goes sour on you and you don’t roll another good game that night.”

The biggest strike he made was to strike out from his home in Long Island, New York, after losing his job. With hopes of better fortunes, he, his wife and their two children packed up their belongings and relocated to Phoenix.

He found employment there, working with a company that was eventually bought out by Honeywell. He worked in the payroll and human resources departments for 26 years before coming back to be closer to his ailing parents.

“My parents were ill,” he said. “I wanted to be closer to them and not on the other side of the country.”

Now happily retired, Mathisen is enjoying his long bowling journey, one that started when he was just 17. He is on the Automan Collison & Repair team, which ranks fourth in the league standings as of Jan. 8. Mathisen is proud of his contributions to the team and thankful for the experience of rolling so many perfect games.

“I think carrying a 215 average as a 75-year-old man is pretty dang good,” he said. “If you walk up and down the alley to ask if anyone has had a perfect game, 90 percent of them will say no. It’s pretty special to roll a 300.”

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