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Bowling News USA - June 15, 2012 Storm 2012 Soldier & Family Assistance Center Project a Big Hit at Fort Meade

(Hank Boomershine, a gold-level certified bowling instructor and Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Storm Products, gives Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ed Rivas pointers on holding the bowling ball during the instructional event for members of the Warrior Transition Unit.)

Hoping to learn how to properly spin his bowling ball to 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 lane.

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, Fort Meade. "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 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."

(Staff Sgt. Tina Oden of the Warrior Transition Unit looks for a strike at the Lanes during an instructional event taught by professional bowlers Saturday afternoon. Storm Products, a manufacturer of bowling equipment, brought in top-level instructors to teach the wounded warriors. Photo by Nate Pesce)

The original idea of bowling helping soldiers began with bowling writer Jim Goodwin emailing some bowling friends how golf had run a similar event. Storm President Dave Symes expressed his support and encouraged his marketing team to develop a plan. Storm Marketing Director Roger Noordhoek and Sinek went to work.

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."

"I know after talking to everyone who participated this was a very moving experience, and one that I believe nobody will forget," said Noordhoek. 

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, and they serve our country to 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 Pedersen, a member of the PBA Hall of Fame with 13 PBA titles who is now an ESPN analyst; Hank Boomershine, a USBC Gold Level certified coach; and several Storm team members, including USBC Hall of Famer Bob Hart, Jeff Carter, Dale Niemela, Mike Luongo, Mickey Luongo, Louie Wemett, Jeff Baker and Chris Johnson.

"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.

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."


(story, pictures courtesy: Brandon Bieltz, Sound Off)

(Editor's Note: A special thanks goes out to the following sponsors of this event: Mike Sinek (The Lanes - Ft. Meade ) - Event Host, Bud Clapsaddle (Dexter) - Shoes (in attendance was Mark Roadarmel), Andy Brenneman (Bowler’s Supply) - Bags (in attendance was Chery Gordon), Billy Myers (Threadworks) - Towels)


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