Youth bowling team pins down national award
January 13, 2010
FORT LEE, Va. (Jan. 6, 2010) -- Amidst the pine and polished lanes at the Fort Lee Bowling Center quite a few accomplished student athletes spend Saturday mornings honing their skills.
The Butterworth's Strikers, a four-person youth bowling team with the Fort Lee Youth Bowling League, recently earned the U.S. Bowling Congress Youth National Team Recognition Award for bowling the highest scored game by a youth bowling team.
Walter "Chip" Wikan, Fort Lee Bowling Center manager, said this accomplishment is equivalent to a middle school football team beating a National Football League team.
"It is truly extraordinary," he said. "It is a testament to the young athletes, their coaches and the corps of volunteers who make this program successful."
The program consists of 24 teams of junior and senior bowlers. It is currently home to 94 bowlers aged 6 to 20 years. A non-sanctioned pee-wee program has 34 bowlers aged 4-7. This developmental league allows youth athletes to grow and become junior bowlers when they reach that ability level.
"Our idea is to grow bowlers not only now but as they transition to other installations," said Albert Williams Sr., league coach.
The program began in 2002 with a group of about 20 military and civilian youth bowlers. In 2006 the program exploded when corporate sponsorship was added. The addition of sponsors from the surrounding community brought opportunities to bring in more bowlers.
As the team name implies, the Butterworth's Strikers, otherwise known as Jonathan "Blake" Cox, 16; Brandyn Cox, 14; Trey Hicks, 15 and Albert Williams Jr., 16, are quite capable of bowling strikes, spares and the occasional perfect game.
In February 2009, the team bowled a combined score of 1,065, a record for their age division. Hicks bowled a 243, Blake recorded a 244, Williams Jr., a 278, and Brandyn bowled a perfect game, scoring 300 points with 10 consecutive strikes.
The boys, who attend high school in Petersburg, Prince George and Dinwiddie, weren't always teammates. Hicks and Williams Jr., have been paired for many years and until a few years ago the Cox brothers were their rivals. They realized their team potential and banded together to become an award-winning team.
"They decided to put their talents together and they just feed off of each other," Williams Sr. said. "They are very positive and supportive of each other and I think that's what makes them a special group."
The teammates have been bowling almost as long as they have been walking. Brandyn and Blake began bowling nine years ago and spent their summer vacations on the lanes at the bowling center where their parents worked. Hicks began bowling when he was six and Williams Jr. began when he was four.
In addition to the award, the team received a year of free bowling.
The league is open to new registrations at any time during the season.