Newark’s Jerrica Blake on a roll into World Deaf Bowling Championships

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NEWARK ― Jerrica Blake actually prefers the smaller bowling houses. But she is used to the big stage.

The 36-year-old Newark woman will be on it again next week, when she’ll represent Ohio and the USA Deaf Sports Federation at the 2023 World Deaf Bowling Championships in Munich, Germany.

“I was overwhelmed when I found out, and I’ll try to do my best,” said Blake, who carries a hefty 212 average and has several series in the 700s. “I’m proud to represent Newark and Ohio, and I’m ready to go.”

Blake, a 2005 graduate of Zanesville High School, is one of just six women on the USA team (there are seven men) and the only one from her state on the entire team. The USA women’s coach, Kim Wroldsen, heard about Jerrica during a tournament in Florida and, through word of mouth, then looked up her credentials and picked her for the team.

Jerrica Blake, of Newark, will compete in Munich, Germany, with the USA Deaf Sports Federation at the 2023 World Championships.

Her credentials are impressive. This spring, she just missed a 300 in the Ohio Inter-City Women’s Tournament at Park Lanes, getting a split on her last ball, but still finished with 298 for best game of the tournament. It featured the top women’s bowlers from across the state, including some semi-professionals, and that game came on her mom’s birthday.

“I think Jerrica has bowled in as many (as) two to three adult leagues a week during her bowling career,” said Granville girls bowling coach Rita Resek, who ran Valley Lanes in Newark when it was in operation. “When I was tournament director of the Queens State Tournament, I told her about the Queens when I saw that she was eligible. I think she has bowled in every Queens Tournament for at least the past 15 years (which you must have at least a 170 average to be eligible),” Resek said.

Last year’s Queens was in Dayton, and Blake has often competed out of state, including in the Great Lakes event in Michigan. Her first 300 game came during 2020 at Village Lanes in Thornville.

Blake has bowled since she was 8, starting in the “Super Bowling Kids” at Valley Lanes, and had a lot of success in Pepsi-Cola junior tournaments. She was coached by Todd Christian.

Jerrica Blake, of Newark, will compete in Munich, Germany, with the USA Deaf Sports Federation at the 2023 World Championships.

“We all bowled: myself, my mom and my sister,” said Blake’s mother, Desiree. “When she was 10, she started to get it down pat. She did the junior tournaments but had to be 18 before she could bowl with the adults at Valley.”

Desiree Blake played basketball and softball and ran track in high school. Jerrica Blake played basketball at Lincoln School and also tried softball, volleyball and soccer. But she really found her niche with the bowling.

When Valley Lanes shut down, Jerrica moved to Park Lanes, then ended up at Utica’s Redskin Lanes, where she practices at least once or twice a week.

“I just love the smaller lanes,” she said. “Focus is big for me, on what ball to use, where to move the ball and throwing it through the triangle. Plus, figuring out how the oil is on the lanes.”Get the Evening Update newsletter in your inbox.

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Jerrica has worked for 14 years at Denison University, starting out in housekeeping and being promoted to helping set up special events for the school. Her trip to Germany is being sponsored by Park Lanes, Redskin Lanes, Big John’s Dining and Catering in Newark, B.I.G. Corner Store and Drive Thru of Newark and Newark’s Townz Family Billiards and Beverages.

“Our family is very excited, and we’re making a family trip out of this,” Desiree Blake said. “We’re very happy for her to experience this and get this opportunity. Just to represent Ohio and her hometown is quite an honor.”

Blake said she is confident as she gets ready to leave Sunday for Munich.

“I hope to win some gold medals,” she said.

She has a long bowling career ahead of her.

“I want to be a professional,” Jerrica said. “I’m 36, and I would like to bowl for 36 more years. I’m going to keep on bowling, until I can’t bowl any more.”