Melanie Brabant

1987 Canadian Youth Bowling Champion

There is no age limit when it comes to qualifying as a Hall of Famer. Melanie Brabant reserved her place in Midland’s sports history in May of 1987 at the tender age of 11. The petite Miss Brabant was a Grade Six student at Parkview Public School when she travelled to Guelph’s Sportsman’s Bowlerama to take on the nation’s best bowlers in her age bracket. She was already an eight-year veteran bowler. She returned to Midland after winning an incredible 19 games out of 22, and she brought home the Canadian Youth Bowling Council championship in the bantam division. To qualify for the nationals, Melanie had to take the first three steps in the YBC’s “Four Steps to Stardom” program. She defeated all corners in winning the local house round, regional zone and provincial segments in her first three steps. At the YBC Ontario finals, Melanie bowled a three-game total of 726 to beat her nearest rival by a comfortable margin of 94 pins. Melanie’s seasonal YBC average was in the 180 range, so it was obvious she was stepping up her performance in the clutch. But, if the provincials showed what Melanie was made of there was much more to come at the Canadian championships. The mark of a true champion is the ability to defeat not only the opponent, but at times, also to handle adversity. Just a couple of weeks before she was to go to Guelph to attempt to bring home the championship, Melanie was stricken with a bout of pneumonia. This gave her no chance to practice and all thoughts of her winning a championship seemed remote. In fact, there were questions of whether or not she would even be able to attend the event. However, her health improved and Melanie went into the Canadian championships hopeful and filled with the confidence of youth. She thought that if she could get off to a good start, she might gain momentum as the tournament progressed. She won her first three games, including wins over the eventual silver and bronze medallists. She beat Chantal Allaire of Quebec 188-166 and 174-146 in the two-game, total-pins format. Miss Allaire would go on to the third-place bronze medal. Then Melanie beat Merrilyn Russell of Alberta, the eventual runner-up, by 220-129 and 186-211 for a 66-pin victory. After defeating these two favoured opponents, Melanie’s confidence was boosted and she began to think in terms of winning the championship. Eight straight wins from this point put her ahead of the pack. She would lose only two more games in the entire three-day event. “I was pretty sure I had it (the championship) starting Monday,” Melanie told the press that year. “I only had to win three of six games that day to clinch it.” That confidence exhibited itself on the lanes as she won her last five games to end the tournament with a record of 19 wins and just three losses. Her final game was her best, a magnificent 307 game that defeated an opponent from New Brunswick. “I was feeling pretty good by that time. Everything just fell into place and the pins went down all game,” she stated at the time. The pins fell just like all her opponents had throughout the tournament. For the 22 games, Melanie averaged 203 with a total pinfall of 4,461. There would be two other medals in the Ontario YBC series for Melanie and a bronze medal at the Ontario Winter Games, but this was Melanie’s finest hour. It was truly a remarkable performance, bringing home Huronia’s very first Canadian bowling championship.