March 14, 2004 11:00 pm
ROLL OFF: Marilee Lake began the La Grande bowling season Saturday morning. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).
ROLL OFF: Marilee Lake began the La Grande bowling season Saturday morning. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).

By Raenelle Kwock

Observer Staff Writer

La Grande's Marilee Lake rolled the first ball to open the third La Grande Women's Bowling Association Tournament Saturday at the Rock Bowling and Fun Center.

when she was 14, her family moved to Maui, Hawaii, where she had her first experience with bowling — other than watching her dad play the sport — at a small four-lane establishment, where they had to set their own pins. Her father taught her how to bowl.

"It was really quite fun to roll your ball, knock down some pins and run to the back of the house and set your own pins for your spare shot," she said.

Her first game was a 39. Lake was hooked ever since, even though she preferred swimming.

Lake's family returned to their hometown of Springfield the following year. She joined the junior bowling program for high school kids. For the next three years, she bowled at Timber Bowl and held an average of 100.

"Boy, did I ever get a shock when I joined an adult league after high school," she says. "It took me a few years but I finally mastered a 160 average."

Lake is the La Grande Women's Bowling Association secretary/treasurer and a delegate to this year's OSWBA convention.

"At one time I bowled five leagues a week, as well as bowling Monte Carlo, now I feel lucky to bowl three leagues and still be able to score decently," she said.

"My high game is a 269 — I actually rolled eight strikes, missed a four pin for my spare in the ninth frame and finished with three more strikes — and my high series is 649."

Lake has bowled tournaments in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, North Dakota, Florida and British Columbia.

She has held positions of secretary/treasurer of several leagues and became a certified YABA coach and secretary/treasurer of the La Grande YABA when her girls were in the junior program for 10 years.

Lake has held the office of president and board of director of the La Grande Women's Association and is a member of the Oregon State 600 Club, holding the position on the board of directors for 20 years and the National 600 Club.

She has attended many OSWBA conventions as an elected delegate.

"All of this I did while raising a family — we have five children (now adults) — working for 30 plus years and growing old with my husband of 37 years," she said. "And the best is yet to come.

"My bowling outlook is to do the best I can," she said. "I've always said you do the best you can with what you have and the score you roll is the best you could do with what you had on that day. Besides there's always next week, right?'"