Pro bowlers, instructors teach Fort Meade WTU Soldiers
June 14, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (June 14, 2012) -- Hoping to learn how to properly spin his bowling ball for a more accurate strike, Sgt. 1st Class Chiedoziem Nwofor visited the Lanes on Saturday morning.
After a just a few hours, the member of the Warrior Transition Unit was spinning and curving his ball down the alley.
That's what can happen after getting pointers from professional bowler Jeff Carter, who has rolled 108 perfect games and holds the United States Bowling Congress highest league-average record of 261.74.
"[Carter] was outstanding," Nwoford said. "He taught me how to do it."
A collection of the top professionals in the sport were on hand Saturday to teach Soldiers from the WTU and their families the art of bowling. In groups of 15, a total of 60 Soldiers were given two-hour lessons from the team of veteran bowlers at no charge.
"It's an honor; it's kind of cool to have the stars in here," said Mike Sinek, manager of the Lanes. "It's really great to do something for the Soldiers and their families."
Sinek developed the idea of an instructional event for WTU members after seeing the success of the Soldier and Family Assistance Center therapeutic bowling program held every Tuesday at the Lanes.
"It gets them out here with their families; it gives shows them another activity that they can do," SFAC director Mark Stoessel said of the sport's therapeutic benefits. "It can help them heal and get their mind off their injuries."
After contacting Storm Products, a manufacturer of bowling equipment, Sinek and members of the SFAC began planning for the unique event.
"This has never been done in the bowling industry," Sinek said. "It's been done with golf, but never with bowling."
While the company participates in many charity events, Storm's Vice President of Operations Corbet Austin said the company jumped at the opportunity to work with the wounded warriors. Coaches traveled from all over the country, including Utah, Georgia, Illinois and Florida, to participate.
"We want to help, we want to give back," Austin said. "You don't get to share your appreciation enough with the military, I think. ... Just talking to some of them and some of the stories they have, it's like 'Wow. You guys have been through some really tough things.'
"And here they are, they have a smile on their face. They're dedicated, they serve our country and keep us safe. If we can give back a little bit just to show them a tiny bit of appreciation, which is not much compared to what they have to go through, hey, we're in."
The event staff featured Randy Pederson, a member of the PBA Hall of Fame with 13 PBA titles who is now an ESPN analyst; Hank Boomershine, a U.S. Congress Gold Level certified coach; and several Storm vice presidents.
"These are the TV guys coming out to teach you how to bowl," said Sgt. 1st Class Denny Phillips of the WTU. "These are professionals. That's big."
Through video cameras and one-on-one instruction, coaches worked with members of the WTU and their families on crafting their bowling skills.
For a few members such as Phillips, Saturday was their first attempt at bowling.
"I wanted to learn," Phillips said. "I just decided to come out and give it a try, and I wound up liking it. I really like it."
In addition to lessons, each member of the WTU was given custom bowling balls and bags from Storm and shoes from Dexter Bowling Shoes.
Phillips, who had only previously visited the bowling alley to pick up some french fries, went from not knowing what bowling shoes were to owning a pair.
Nwofor said he's ditching the bowling alley's balls for his new, custom tie-dyed one.
Both Phillips and Nwofor said they appreciated Storm for bringing the top-level instructors.
"I don't know much about bowling and I never really heard of Storm, but they put on a show like this -- this is unheard of," Phillips said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing."