U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN INFORMATION
ORLANDO, Fla. – Bowling is a family sport for the Pajaks, but it didn’t exactly come about as one might expect.
Daria Pajak has become of the most recognizable names for bowling fans in the United States. The 25-year-old earned her first Professional Women’s Bowling Association title at the PWBA Greater Detroit Open in 2017, on her way to earning PWBA Rookie of the Year honors.
This week, Pajak is competing in the U.S. Women’s Open at Boardwalk Bowl. While she always seems to have several fans to cheer her on at each event, there are two special fans in attendance this week.
Her mother and father, Bozena and Miroslaw Pajak, made the journey from Pila, Poland, to watch their daughter bowl, and they’re hoping to see her improve on last year’s runner-up finish.
“They have never seen me perform on the PWBA Tour,” Pajak said. “They watched me bowl in the (Professional Bowlers Association) World Series of Bowling two years ago, and I made the cut on Cheetah. So having them with me, and having to go through all the emotions of bowling match play … it was very unexpected for me to make it, and they were so excited. It’s cool to have them here now during the U.S. Women’s Open, such an important event for me.”
Neither parent speaks English, so Daria also serves as a translator. When asked if they watch Daria on livestream broadcasts, Bozena responded “Of course, all the tournaments,” while her dad interjected that “because of that, we don’t sleep very well,” referencing the time difference.
They added they are very proud of their daughter’s accomplishments. Her dad said it’s because she proved to herself and everyone else that she could compete on the PWBA Tour.
“It’s very heartwarming to hear them say that,” Pajak said. “I’ve been putting a lot of effort into something I didn’t know if I could succeed in, but I kept pushing and pushing.”
Pajak explained how she is among the first generation of bowlers in Poland. Her family didn’t really know the sport when they first they tried it, but took to it quickly.
“When we all went bowling for the first time, everything was new for us,” Pajak said. “I think they love it more than I do. I think my mom and dad are more obsessed (with bowling) than I am.”
Her parents are competitive bowlers on the senior tours in Europe. Her mom is the reigning women’s senior champion in Poland. Pajak is quick to point out her parents learned the sport later in life, while she also was developing her skills.
“It’s not like my mom was a super-professional and was like, ‘Daughter, I’m going to teach you how to bowl,’” Pajak said.
Pajak said her father, who is 59, might be the oldest two-handed player competitively bowling in Europe. He switched to the two-handed style nearly a decade ago. He wants to return to the United States next year and bowl the Super Senior Classic, a United States Bowling Congress event for bowlers age 60 and older.
Because of her parents' involvement in the sport, she said nowadays, when they go bowling as a family, the games become “very competitive.”
“No joke, my dad keeps winning, and I’m getting very mad,” Pajak said. “My mom gets eight pins of handicap from us – the women in Europe get eight pins, so we give her that – but they take the eight pins away from me. I don’t know why.”
With her parents in the United States for more than three weeks, Pajak did plan a surprise – a trip to New York City.
“I didn’t ask them (about taking a trip to New York) because I knew they would say no, it’s too hectic,” Pajak said. “I just said, ‘Hey, we’re flying to New York, I already bought the tickets.’ We’re going without bowling bags, going to see Manhattan and everything they always wanted to see.”
Visit PWBA.com/Live for livestream information, scores and more on the U.S. Women's Open.