The longest plane ride Jessica Earnest has ever had was from Nashville to Las Vegas, approximately four hours.
Imagine her anticipation as she prepares to leave with her Junior Team USA teammates June 19 for the World Youth Championships in Bangkok, Thailand - a 24-hour journey!
"I'll fly from Nashville to Dallas to join my USA teammates," Earnest says, "and then we fly to Japan, then on to Bangkok. We're arriving a couple days early to make adjustment to the time change."
Earnest, a three-time NCAA All-American at Vanderbilt, is no stranger to international competition, having won a team gold medal and a silver medal in doubles at the 2011 PABCON Games in the Dominican Republic. However, the world-wide nature of this tournament brings a new dimension.
Jessica has an excellent mentor to prepare for the big stage, her older sister Josie, who last month finished fifth at the prestigious Queens tournament against the best women bowlers in the United States.
"When Josie beat some Hall of Famers at the Queens she said that she couldn't afford to consider who they were when they were competing," Jessica recalled. "So I will be telling myself that I can't stop and think about who is on the lane next to me. I will focus on my own game and making the necessary adjustments."
Earnest also has visited with recent Vanderbilt graduate Brittni Hamilton, who won silver last year at the World Youth Championships when they were held in Finland. Hamilton's advice was not to carry a lot of expectations into the tournament but, like Josie Earnest, give yourself positive self-talk.
In a big sense, Jessica is already a "winner" even making this elite four-woman travel team and wearing the red, white and blue of the United States. There are 10 women on the Junior Team USA roster so after the team's training camp in Dallas last month, there was anxiety as the four members were chosen.
"I went over to Josie's apartment so I wouldn't be alone when the team was announced," Jessica says. "Either way I wanted to be with Josie. And as they read the names, naturally mine was the last one called - just my luck!"
Earnest has worked overtime preparing since the end of Vanderbilt's school year a month ago.
"I take every chance I have to go to the bowling center," she says, "and I've worked especially hard on my spare shooting. Everyone there will be very sharp with their spares."
She notes the difference between the United States competitors and many of the competitors representing other countries.
"In some countries bowling is their actual job and everything else is essentially done for them," Earnest explains. "In the United States we all have multiple priorities and we fit bowling into our day as we can."
The lengthy championships, which also include a men's division, include singles, doubles, trios and two days of team competition. There is also a Masters title in which bowlers qualify during the course of their tournament performance.
Earnest will write a blog about her experiences which will be posted on www.vucommodores.com.