SPARE TIME: Helena teen Murphy travels far and wide in search of perfect game

2010-03-26T00:13:00Z SPARE TIME: Helena teen Murphy travels far and wide in search of perfect gameBy CURT SYNNESS Independent Record Helena Independent Record
March 26, 2010 12:13 am  • 


Erin Murphy, the four-time City all-events youth bowling champion, has already been to places many folks just dream about.

She’s seen Niagara Falls, the Henry Ford Museum, and a couple of dazzling Las Vegas shows. And all before the age of 19.

But Murphy wasn’t at these places just sight-seeing. She was there competing in national bowling tournaments, against the best in the country her age.

Murphy recently won the 2010 City Youth Bowling Tournament all-events title at Sleeping Giant Lanes, knocking down 1,507 pins. It was her fourth consecutive City all-events championship.

She also was runner-up in the doubles event, pairing with her 13-year old sister, Caitlyn. Erin carries a 175 average, while little sis averages 146.

“I think what makes Erin successful is that she throws a really good, fast, straight ball,” her mother, Marie Murphy, explained. “She’s not that great on strikes, but she picks up a lot of spares.”

In 2000, at eight years of age, she won the State all-events crown for her age-group.

Over the last three years, Murphy has qualified for three National Junior Gold Tournaments, through the Pepsi State Qualifiers. She went to the Junior Golds in Buffalo, NY, in 2007 at the age of 15, and to Detroit, Mich., in 2008.

Last year, she skipped the Junior Golds to participate in the Teen Masters, along with her brother, Daniel, in Las Vegas.

Erin’s mother, Marie, accompanied her on the flights to Buffalo and Detroit. Jacob Brask, another local youth kegler, also attended those events.

“I was sick both times during those Junior Gold’s tourneys, so that was hard for me,” said Murphy, although she still managed to finish 360th out of 520 girls (ages 12-21) in Buffalo.

“But I had a lot of fun anyway, and both tournaments were unique experiences,” she said. “We visited Niagara Falls — that was really sweet — and then we went to a Hard Rock Café.”

At the Hard Rock, Murphy obtained a guitar pin with a bowling ball on it. Professional bowler Chris Barnes had a booth at the tournament, and Murphy said Brask got to talk with the PBA pro.

“Detroit was a really busy city – the bowling alley had 60 lanes,” Murphy said. “(Helena bowler) Ryan Collick went on that trip, and his dad, who lives in Detroit, came down and watched us bowl.”

She said they visited the Henry Ford Museum, where they, “saw some really cool sports cars.”

For the Teen Masters last year, the entire Murphy family – dad Dennis, Marie, Daniel and Caitlyn – drove down together.

The tournament was held at the South Point Hotel. Away from the alleys, the Murphy’s attended the Blue Man Group’s concert, and the Cirque de Soleil. “Those shows were really sweet,” Erin said.

Murphy first started bowling in her hometown of Butte, when she was seven years old, at Star Lanes. “Bud Atchison at Star Lanes taught me how to bowl, and I’ve learned a lot from my mom over the years, too,” Murphy said.

The family relocated to the Capital City in 1999, and since then two of her more influential volunteer instructors were Teri Johnson and John Brodersen, according to Murphy.

“When I was in about the sixth grade, Teri showed me how to throw a finger-tip ball,” Murphy related. “Then about three years ago, after John redrilled my ball and I was having some problems, he came down on his own time and helped to redo my approach.”

Murphy, who stands 5-feet-11, played volleyball for Helena High up until her sophomore year, before sustaining a knee injury. She graduated from Helena last year, and is currently attending the UM-Helena College of Technology.

Next year she plans on transferring to Montana State University, where she will study accounting.

Murphy belongs to a traveling league, bowling at Great Falls, Butte, Billings, Missoula and Helena. Her career high game is a 257, and her lifetime best series is a 652. She practices once a week at SGL, usually with her younger brother.

“He keeps me in line,” she laughed, referring to how Daniel, who sports a 181 average, reminds her to take their practice sessions seriously.

Last year, at the age of 15, Daniel became what is believed the youngest bowler in state history to shoot a perfect 300 game.

This April, the Murphy siblings (Erin, Daniel and Caitlyn) and Jacob Brask will join together to compete in the State Junior Team championships.

Curt Synness: 449-2150 or

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