By Nicole Woods, USARECJuly 3, 2014
BALTIMORE: (July 3, 2014) For two years in a row, Baltimore Recruiting Battalion's SFC Chandres Bolden has been selected to play on the Armed Forces Bowling Team at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Bolden is center commander for the Sterling Recruiting Center in Sterling, Va. where she is able to leverage her opportunities in the Army to inform and educate future soldiers.
"Whenever I get the opportunity to speak to a prospect or future soldier, I tell them what the Army has done for me, and being able to do something that I love, like competitive bowling, is just one of many -- If I could go back, I'd do it all again, through the Army".
Bolden earned a spot on the Armed Forces Bowling Team again this year after an intense week of competition in May at the All Army Bowling Trial Camp, where service members from all over the globe came to compete for just eight spots on the team. Four females and four males play on the team.
"It sort of felt like a first-round draft pick; and coming back this year, there were more women participating, so I had more competition. This isn't just any recreational activity; you have to put in hours and days of dedication and skill", said Bolden.
Over the course of the trial camp bowlers competed in several events -- from singles to doubles, and gender specific competitions.
Bolden said competition is tough, because everyone selected is very good. Selection for the trial camp is based on performance in leagues and pro tournaments. Every service has its own criteria and application process that they must complete before even being considered for selection in the camp.
For the Army, women have to bowl on more than one league at a time throughout the year, while maintaining a specific average, which typically fluctuates around 160-180.
"We compete for trophies and medals; winning that gold is one of the best things", said Bolden.
Her current average is a 200, but during tournaments different oil patterns are put on the lanes to test the skill and versatility of the athletes, and those patterns make bowling more difficult than in traditional recreational games.
"It's important to compete in different settings throughout the year because you're building up your experience and skill for those trickier lanes", said Bolden.
Through competing in local and tournaments abroad as much as possible, Bolden said she will spend the remainder of the year preparing for a spot on next year's Armed Forces Bowling team.
"It's difficult finding time to practice and bowl, especially as a center commander because we don't have a typical 9-5 day. Outside of getting up to do PT and getting Soldiers ready for the day, in addition to working on what needs to be done at the office, your day may end later in the night, and you've just got to find time to do it all".
The All Army Trial Camp is an opportunity for Bolden to get out of the office and take some time to focus on developing her skill and technique. She has been bowling since childhood, something that started out as a weekly family outing and grew into a sport at which she excels.