Katie Verbil answered her phone in two rings Thursday, hardly surprising since the flow of well-wishers wouldn’t let her be away from it for too long.
A day after setting what is a national women’s bowling record with an 879 three-game series at West Acres Bowl, Verbil took congratulatory calls from friends, family, media and members of the bowling community.
The 32-year-old Verbil said she never imagined she would bowl 33 strikes in a row — two 300 games and the first nine strikes of the third — and after it happened the attention she received was equally surprising.
“It’s been an insane day,” said Verbil, who bowled at Wichita State from 1998 to 2002. “… I never would have, in a million years, thought that I would have received this much attention for bowling an 879."
The U.S. Bowling Congress must formally approve the series.
The previous women’s record was 878, set by Missouri’s Karen Rosenburg in 2001. Verbil beat it by finishing a spare after leaving the 10-pin standing in the 10th frame of her third game and completing her series with strike No. 34.
Verbil was competing at WSU when Roseburg set the record, and it was about that time that Verbil set her sights on going above and beyond.
“You know, 879 is pretty good,” Verbil said. “I’m pretty excited, I’m pretty proud of myself. I had a friend remind me last night that 10 years ago I set a goal that I wanted to be the first female to shoot 900. I’ll keep trying.”
Verbil was among friends Wednesday night in a Battle of the Sexes league. As she piled up the strikes, they were increasingly unsure how to react.
One male friend, a fellow left-hander who recently rolled an 879 series, tried to keep Verbil calm as she entered the 10th frame of the final game. Others did their best to keep Verbil from thinking about the history she was close to making.
The laid-back atmosphere kept the pressure from building too much, and even though she was competing against others, the fact that they were all friends meant everyone was rooting for her.
“My friends were all trying to keep my mind off of it and keep me distracted,” Verbil said. “We were joking around and laughing and just typical banter back and forth while bowling. They were just really trying to keep me from thinking about it.”
Verbil, a Phoenix native, took up bowling as a kid because her parents and uncle frequently played. She has dreamed of a professional bowling career lately, and her record series has her amping up those aspirations.
Since completing her college career, Verbil has competed in amateur events and made some money bowling. But with a young son and an impending marriage, she’ll likely have to settle for Wednesday league play. She works as a food and beverage supervisor for Hyatt Regency Wichita.
“I want to start practicing and working my butt off and prepare for the big tournaments,” Verbil said. “The (USBC) Queens and the U.S. Open and be able to do all of those things. I would love to turn it into a career. I probably won’t, but if I could spend more time doing it, I would love to.”