At the age of 16, Denise Troy was bowling at the old Warwick Lanes on Post Road when she started to feel sick. She ended up in the hospital with a case of pericarditis, an inflammation of the pericardium that surrounds the heart. She was hospitalized for a year.
When she was finally released, the first thing she wanted to do was go bowling, even though doctors told her she’d never bowl again.
“I’m the kind of person where you don’t tell me I can’t do things,” Troy said.
The return to the bowling alley was the beginning of quite a journey. She’s been bowling ever since, with three 300 games to her name and countless forays into high-level competition. Now a Connecticut resident, the Warwick native was inducted in October into the Hall of Fame of the United States Bowling Congress Connecticut State Association.
It was a special honor, especially considering how her bowling career began.
“I still remember getting out of the hospital and my dad asking me if I wanted to go get a big, greasy cheeseburger,” she said. “I said, ‘No, I want to go bowling.”
Troy, a 1976 graduate of Warwick Vets, began bowling seven days a week. When she moved to Connecticut in 1985, she continued to play and even had a bowling alley willing to sponsor her on the professional tour.
She turned that chance down because she didn’t want to travel as much as the tour would require, but she continued to make bowling a major part of her life. She competed in the New England Bowling Association as well as the Women’s All-Star Association. She also started the Connecticut division of the Amateur Bowling Tournament, which she ran for 15 years.
Troy succeeded every step of the way. She has a career average of 218 with three sanctioned 300 games on record. She has also bowled in more than 20 championship tournaments, and she appeared once on the TV show Hot Shot Challenge, where professional bowler Pete Couture was the only person to beat her.
Her mother, who still lives in Warwick, is a frequent duckpin bowler, and Troy seemed to inherit some bowling ability from her. She credits a natural style for her success.
“I picked it up right away and just always was very natural doing it,” she said. “People used to ask me if I had taken ballet because of the gracefulness, but it’s something that just came to me.”
For all her success, Troy didn’t expect to be any kind of Hall of Famer, but she was inducted into a regional hall several years ago. That put her on the radar for the state honor, but she was still surprised when she found out.
“I was shocked,” she said. “It was pretty exciting. I never say anything about my accomplishments, so I never thought they were being noticed.”
Troy was inducted in a ceremony on Oct. 13 in Glastonbury, Conn., with her mother on hand to cheer her on.
Troy now lives in West Haven, Conn., and works as a payroll specialist at Warnaco. She still bowls three nights a week, and plans to keep going for as long as possible.
Pretty good for someone who once thought she’d never bowl again.
“The scores may not be as good, but it’s still something I enjoy,” Troy said. “I’ll keep playing until I can’t throw the ball anymore.”