Dan Kenny spent the better part of the last 10 years imagining what it would be like to bowl a 300 game.
He never dreamed about rolling three 300 games in three weeks.
Kenny, a senior for the Maple Shade High School bowling team, first achieved perfection with a 300 game in a Jan. 8 match against Cinnaminson. It was everything Kenny hoped it would be, and then some.
“My teammates were clapping and cheering, and I couldn’t believe it,” Kenny said. “It was an amazing feeling.”
But here’s the thing: Kenny’s perfect game that afternoon at Laurel Lanes, his home away from home on Route 73 in Maple Shade, was just the beginning of one of the most remarkable runs by a scholastic bowler in recent South Jersey sports history.
On Jan. 24 against New Egypt, Kenny rolled another 300 game.
On Jan. 28 against Ewing, Kenny rolled another one.
“I’ve heard of kids having two" 300 games in a season," said Maple Shade coach Robert Thompson, who has run the Wildcats program for 12 years. “But three? That just doesn’t happen very often.”
Kenny has been a varsity bowler for four years. He’s carrying one of the state’s top averages, a 229.2 mark, for a team that went 15-0 during the regular season, winning every match by a 4-0 score.
Kenny learned the sport from his father and older brother, both of whom are named Randy. Kenny’s brother was a varsity bowler for Maple Shade, graduating in 2010.
“I remember Danny running around here when he was 8 years old,” Thompson said.
Dan Kenny works at Laurel Lanes, spending around 30 hours a week in the alley’s kitchen.
“Making pizzas, serving food,” Kenny said.
He’s back at the lanes often with his family or with his team.
“I love the competition, and the friends you make along the way,” Kenny said of bowling.
Kenny is a drag-racing fan who hopes to become an auto mechanic and perhaps open his own shop someday. He’s become something of a celebrity in the hallways at Maple Shade, a new experience for the soft-spoken senior.
“I had athletes from other sports come up to me — wrestlers, basketball players, football players — and say, ‘Wow, that’s so cool,’ ” Kenny said of the reaction to his first 300 game. “It was weird because I’m usually not that popular in school, but for like the next week after it happened, I was popular.
“And then I bowled another one.”
Kenny said the second one was easier, as was the third. And the third one was extra special because his entire family — his mother, Beth; father; and brother — were there.
“I’m a lot more confident now,” Dan Kenny said. “Every time we have a match, my team talks about it and somebody will say, ‘Oh, are you going to bowl 300 today?’
“I’m like, ‘Maybe.’”
Kenny might roll several more 300 games in his life. Nothing will be like the first.
“It had been a goal of mine for so long, really since I started taking bowling seriously,” Kenny said.
After 11 straight strikes on Jan. 8, the crowd of teammates, opponents, and spectators around him grew quiet. He needed one more.
“My legs felt like jelly,” Kenny said. “I was shaking.
“I was just so nervous. I was trying not to think about it. I was just trying to go with the flow and make sure I make a good shot.”
Kenny said it was like a dream come true.