BY JOE JACQUEZ
Reno NV - The PWBA Player of the Year race has come down to the last event of the season, and the names that have been talked about all season are being talked about again.
Verity Crawley of England. Dasha Kovalova of the Ukraine. Julia Bond, who has won three titles this season. Shannon O'Keefe, the two-time reigning POY. All are near the top of the points standings.
But what about Bryanna Coté of Tucson, Arizona?
You know, the player who also claimed a title this season during January’s PWBA Kickoff Classic Series (the ITRC Classic)? The player who went on to record a runner-up finish in the Greater Cleveland Open and another in the Reno Classic? The player who has bowled her way onto five stepladder finals overall this season alone, including two shows in the Summer Classic Series (IBC Classic, BowlTV Classic)?
Coté is not talked about as much as other names, yet by any measure she has had one of the most consistent seasons of anybody on tour in 2021.
"I've always been the type of person to just let my bowling speak for itself,” said the 2018 USBC Queens runner-up, who in 2014 tied a then-record for the highest series by a woman (879). “If I'm bowling great, great. If I'm not bowling good, I'll be the first person to tell you."
Coté's husband Randy, who's with Bryanna at most PWBA Tour stops, didn't hold anything back on his opinion of his wife's skill level on the lanes.
"In my eyes, she's obviously one of the best bowlers in the world, especially one of the best spare shooters in the world," Randy said.
In addition to ranking among the world’s greatest spare shooters, there is something else Randy credits for Bryanna’s remarkable 2021 campaign.
"She's just mentally strong," he said. "She's got the no quit in her, which definitely helps when you're touring every week. You have to be strong.
"When she calms her brain, that hamster in her brain doesn't seem to get the best of her," Randy said. "For her, it's really just mental, learning to slow down her thought process and not get too ahead of herself. When she does that, she's very good."
As far as season-long success goes, Randy said it boils down to confidence at this point.
"Continuously seeing herself at the top of the leaderboard instead of hugging the line," he said. "I think a lot of this game is confidence."
As an experienced bowler, Bryanna's been able to develop, with age and experience, a short-term memory, even if bad breaks are extremely frustrating.
"It's hard because you make as many good shots as you can but when the pins decide to have other things in mind, it's frustrating,” she said. “To say I don't get frustrated in those moments is a lie, but all I can do is shoot my spare and start over. I've learned over the years that to dwell on it just creates bad outcomes."
Bryanna also pointed out that sometimes she gets the breaks, so she believes it all evens out.
As far as what her husband thinks of her, Bryanna is very appreciative.
"He does and I've always told him, 'You're just saying that because you're my husband," she said, laughing. "He's told me a couple of times and I appreciate it.
"He knows my game better than anybody. He's really great a helping me if I'm getting off physically at all or trying to keep me mentally in check," Coté said. "He's brutally honest and sometimes we butt heads, but at the end of the day I'm grateful for that because sometimes honesty is the best policy, whether you want to hear it or not."
At the end of the day, she has no problem not being talked about.
"If I'm going to fly under the radar, great, but if I can be in the spotlight winning everything, that's not a bad thing either," Cot é said.
That spotlight will be shining brightly upon her as the last round of match play gets underway Saturday in the PWBA Tour Championship, which Bryanna, who thus far has gone 10-6 in match play and averaged nearly 230, will begin sitting in second at +764.