As a child, Jerrica Blake’s mother always encouraged her that her hearing loss would not deter her from reaching her goals.
That indomitable attitude has been evident around campus for the 14 years Blake has served as a valuable Denison’s Facilities Services team member.
It also fuels Blake’s ambitions when participating in her favorite sport.
Bowling has been Blake’s passion since she was 8 — and her love for the game and a desire to master it has earned her a spot in the World Deaf Bowling Championships in Munich, Germany, in August 2023.
The tournament represents her first shot at international competition, and her family and Denison co-workers could not be prouder.
It’s been quite the year for Blake, who recently earned a promotion from building services assistant to special events associate.
She enjoys working at Denison and has thrived in the campus environment. One of her co-workers, Rod Robertson, learned sign language to allow them to better communicate with Blake.
“Jerrica is such a hard worker,” says Will Darling, events and logistics coordinator at Denison. “When an opening in our department became available, she’s the first person I asked to join.”
Blake received another endorsement while competing in a deaf bowling tournament in Florida. Fellow competitors were so impressed with her performance that they alerted Team USA coach Kimberly Wroldsen.
The coach took the advice of players she respects and invited Blake to compete in a world tournament that includes 30 countries. Each roster includes six women and six men.
“Almost all of our bowlers on the team are well-known to the deaf community,” Wroldsen says. “This is Jerrica’s first time having this kind of experience.”
Blake is thrilled to bowl for her country. She could barely contain her excitement when she opened a package that contained five Team USA shirts.
“I’m a little nervous but really happy,” says Blake, who carries a 208 bowling average.
Blake will be accompanied in Germany by her mother, Desiree, and her brother, Jeremy ’00, who worked in the university’s information technology department for 16 years. Donations from Denison and bowling alleys in the Newark, Ohio, area have raised nearly $2,000 for the family’s trip.
“I’ve always told Jerrica, ‘Don’t let this impairment hold you back from anything you want in life,’” says her mother, a fellow bowling enthusiast. “It never has. She couldn’t wait to turn 18 so she could bowl in a league with me. Now, she’s representing her country — all the way from Newark, Ohio.”