STOW, Ohio — A 16-year-old bowler from Stow is making a name for herself after competing in—and excelling in—a national bowing series.
Jillian Martin found a passion for bowling at the age of five after her uncle, who had a background in bowling, asked if she wanted to learn and began coaching her.
Over the years Martin dabbled in dance and gymnastics but she couldn’t stay away from the lanes.
“I just loved bowling so much,” Martin said. “I just fell in love with it and I’ve stuck with it ever since.”
Now a junior at Stow-Munroe Falls High School, Martin is not only a standout bowler on the Junior Team USA bowling squad, she’s competing with the best in the world.
Martin recently competed in the Professional Women’s Bowling Association ITRC Classic in Arlington, Texas.
During the series, Martin came in second place, just six pins behind the winner. In her second series, Martin was just one pin shy of a perfect game, bowling a 299 and impressing her competition.
“I’m just full of joy, full of laughter and just to be able to go out there and compete—I have a fire, I have a passion and I always want to win—but it’s an incredible experience,” Martin said.
The PWBA series was Martin’s third professional competition, and though she does feel the magnitude of the level she’s already competing at, she doesn’t let it shake her.
“There’s definitely a lot of nerves to go out there because you’re bowling against the best in the world but it’s a great feeling and it’s amazing, Martin said. “I didn’t know how they would perceive me, how they would look at me while I’m out there but truthfully they look at me as a competitor and I feel like I’ve earned that position as well.”
Going against the best takes a certain mindset, a fiery, passionate one which Martin described herself as having.
“I’m just going to go out there and be me, do what I always do—doesn’t matter who I’m bowling against, I’m just going to bowl the best I can,” Martin said. “I’m very passionate, I have a fire and I’m very excited out there. I celebrate a lot and I just love to bring that passion out on the lanes.”
The 11-time JTBA champion and 2019 OHSAA state champion will continue her already remarkable career with her next competition being the PBA Junior National Championship on Feb. 20.
As she continues through high school and plans for her college career and education, Martin wants to be a trailblazer for other young women and girls chasing their dreams on the lanes.
“I’ve always wanted to be that person. Just being able to inspire everyone,” Martin said. “I’ve gotten messages from people and it’s so cool. I can not even describe the feeling when you get a message from someone and they’re like ‘I look up to you.’ It’s just great.”