Joe Novara of East Patchogue, New York, describes himself as camera shy, but there's no way to avoid the spotlight when you step onto the approach on the verge of perfection.
The 26-year-old right-hander is known in the Northeast as a fierce competitor, and his assault on the pins Monday at East Islip Lanes in East Islip, New York, resulted in 36 strikes during the Monday Invitational league.
The trio of perfect games makes Novara the 33rd bowler overall, and fourth from the Empire State, to record a 900 series. His achievement is pending approval from USBC and would be the 34th USBC-approved 900. It marks the first perfect set of the 2017-2018 season and fourth during the 2017 calendar year.
"I really didn't feel any pressure while I was bowling, but now that it's had a chance to sink in, it's pretty unbelievable," said Novara, who owns The Perfect Fit Pro Shop at Port Jeff Bowl in Port Jefferson Station, New York. "It's one of those things you dream of, but you never think it will really happen. When I get lined up, I just seem to strike a lot. It's hard to describe. I always felt like 900 was possible, but to actually do it is something else."
Novara previously flirted with 900 on two occasions, stringing 31 strikes, and each time getting more confident that if given the opportunity again, he'd finish it off.
The Monday Invitational league features four-player teams and takes up about half of the 40-lane center, which grew quiet for Novara's final frame.
"It really was pretty crazy," Novara said. "I knew people were back there, but I tried to stay focused on the game. I'd throw a shot, high-five my teammates and turn back around. I started to lose my look on the right lane, but I knew if I could strike there in the ninth frame, I had a really good chance to do it."
Novara entered Monday's league session with more than two dozen certified 300s to his credit, along with multiple series over 850. He regularly has averaged in the 240s.
Growing up in a highly competitive area of the country helped Novara excel as a youth bowler and high school athlete, and his passion for the sport led him to the pro shop business. In June 2017, he found the perfect career fit as a pro shop owner for the first time.
Despite his continued success on the lanes and the momentum of his 900 series, he is focused on making sure the pro shop runs well.
His competitive efforts primarily are limited to league and local events, though the USBC Open Championships and USBC Masters will be visiting his home state in 2018, which is enticing, too. The two events will be held a few hours away in Syracuse, New York.
The first bowler to roll a 900 series on Long Island, New York, Novara does have one, concrete competitive goal though - winning the prestigious Long Island Masters. The 2018 edition is scheduled for late January.
"I've been working in pro shops since I was 15, and I'm very grateful and excited about this new opportunity," Novara said. "I'll bowl when I can, but I want to make sure the shop runs perfectly. That's where my head is right now."
The first USBC-approved 900 occurred Feb. 2, 1997 when Jeremy Sonnenfeld rolled three consecutive perfect games in Lincoln, Nebraska.
USBC-Approved 900 Series (34)
Jeremy Sonnenfeld (R), Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 2, 1997
Tony Roventini (L), Greenfield, Wis., Nov. 9, 1998
Vince Wood (R), Moreno Valley, Calif., Sept, 29, 1999
Robby Portalatin (L), Jackson, Mich., Dec. 28, 2000
James Hylton (R), Salem, Ore., May 2, 2001
Jeff Campbell II (R), New Castle, Pa., June 12, 2004
Darin Pomije (R), New Prague, Minn., Dec. 9, 2004
Robert Mushtare (R), Fort Drum, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2005 and Feb. 19, 2006
Lonnie Billiter Jr. (R), Fairfield, Ohio, Feb. 13, 2006
Mark Wukoman (R), Greenfield, Wis., April 22, 2006
P.J. Giesfeldt (R), Milwaukee, Dec. 23, 2006
Rich Jerome Jr. (R), Baltimore, Dec. 22, 2008
Chris Aker (L), Winnemucca, Nev., Oct. 30, 2009
Andrew Teall (R), Medford, N.J., Nov. 2, 2009
Andrew Mank (R), Belleville, Ill., March 18, 2010
William Howell III (L), Middletown, N.Y., Oct. 21, 2010
Matt Latarski (R), Medina, Ohio, Nov. 28, 2010
Bob Kammer Jr. (R), Crown Point, Ind., Jan. 8, 2011
John Martorella Sr. (R), Greece, N.Y., April 12, 2012
Jimmy Schmitzer (R), Riverside, Calif., April 20, 2012
James Williams (R), Pawcatuck, Conn., (bowled in Wakefield, R.I.), April 16, 2013
Joe Scarborough (R), Charlotte, N.C., (bowled in The Villages, Fla.), April 21, 2013
Todd James (R), East New Market, Md., (bowled in Laurel, Del.), March 18, 2014
Amos Gordon (R), Colorado Springs, Colo., April 11, 2014
Earon Vollmar (R), Toledo, Ohio, Jan. 19, 2015
Hakim Emmanuel (R), Stoughton, Mass., Feb. 19, 2015
David Sewesky (L), Dearborn, Mich., Jan. 10, 2016
Dale Gerhard (R), Mill Hall, Pa., Jan. 12, 2016
Sean Osbourn (R), Houston, Nov. 21, 2016
John Buchanan III (R), Evansville, Ind., Jan. 11, 2017
Sam Esposito (R), Homer Glen, Ill., Feb. 3, 2017
Brady Stearns (R), St. Cloud, Minn., March 28, 2017
Joe Novara (R), East Patchogue, N.Y., Oct. 16, 2017**
** Pending formal approval by the United States Bowling Congress.
For more information on USBC records, visit BOWL.com/Records.