Born a little too soon to take advantage of Title IX, Paulette Genz has made up for it ever since.
The lifelong Mahtomedi resident — a multi-sport athlete from her teens into her 70’s — was recently named to her fourth sports Hall of Fame.
“I’ve always enjoyed sports. I’ve had some success, and as long as I can contribute, I’ll keep going,” said Genz, 71, who was inducted into the Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame in May, specifically for her prowess in bowling.
Genz, currently playing in slow-pitch softball and golf leagues, was previously embraced by the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame, the Minnesota Bowling Hall of Fame, and the St. Paul Bowling Hall of Fame.
The 1970 legislation that opened the door for girls scholastic sports was welcomed by Genz, who graduated from MHS in 1964 and had only some limited Girls Athletic Association (GAA) club activities in basketball and softball.
But she was “disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity myself,” Genz said, meaning high school sports.
“I might have been able to go on to higher education with benefit of athletic scholarship, possibly.”
The retired 3M employee has been a league bowler for over 50 years, attending 38 national tournaments and twice earning individual championships in seniors divisions.
For a good chunk of her career, Genz averaged 190 or above, with a high of 199 one season. With age, she slipped as “low” as 185 for a season. She averaged 186 last winter, bowling in two leagues as usual.
For over 30 years she’s been a member of the “Don-Mar” team sponsored by Donald and Marleen Jorgensen. Marleen has been her teammate all the while.
With all those years in the lanes, Genz was asked, did she ever get the elusive 300 game?
No, but she came within one pin, twice. She rolled a 299 at a tournament in Hutchinson in 1996 and another at Maplewood Bowl a few years later (she can’t pinpoint the year.) Her high game otherwise is 279.
“I left the ten pin first time, and the seven pin the second time,” Genz said, about the fateful 12th ball. “You try to stay calm and just think about what you are doing, but it’s a little nerve-wracking.”
Each time, she said, “Everybody was watching, and we were all pretty sure I had the 12th strike, but it didn’t happen.”
Genz bowls in two leagues in the winter, then shifts gears completely.
“I put that big heavy ball in the closet in the summer and start chasing around a smaller one,” she said.
Actually, two smaller ones. She plays league slow-pitch softball, along with golf, which she started in her late 50’s. Playing in two leagues, she shoots in the 50’s for nine holes, and got as low as 47 once.
Genz played fast-pitch softball for many years, highlighted by the 1979 national tournament when she was named all-tournament as the pitcher for a Bloomington team.
Playing for teams in White Bear Lake, St. Paul and Bloomington, she started as an infielder and eventually moved to pitcher. She quit fast pitch at around age 50 and didn’t pick up a glove again until 10 years later when she was recruited for slow-pitch.
Her current team, Gallagher’s, consists of ladies in their 60’s and 70’s, and with no seniors league convenient, they compete against ladies decades younger at a league in South St. Paul. And hold their own. The game the Press watched last week, they lost 7-6 to Jersey Bar.
“The camaraderie, the friendships, is the best thing,” Genz said. “But once we cross the lines, I like to win, too.”