Some top bowling talent converged on South Florida from July 28 through Aug. 3 for the 51st Lee Evans Tournament of The Americas at Strikers Lanes in Sunrise.
The week-long event featured national teams from the Americas (North, South and Central and the Caribbean). Approximately 140 bowlers — adults, seniors, super seniors and juniors age 12-15 and 16-19 — represented Aruba, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela.
The draw included national and international stars like Colombia’s Manuel Otalora and Andres Gomez (both on the PBA Tour) and Team USA’s Dana Mackie-Miller, Paula Vidad, Char Hammel, Steve Smith and Eddie Vandaniker. Junior bowlers, who medaled at the prestigious American Zone Junior Tournament the previous week in Puerto Rico, also participated.
Competition involved singles, doubles, mixed doubles and team (two men and two women).
The tournament was the brainchild of the late Lee Evans, who was the news-bureau director for the City of Miami. He wanted to unite the Americas (North, South and Central and the Caribbean) through an amateur bowling tournament.
“It was an impossible dream as no one thought this tournament would start at all, because bowling was a recreational sport in Central and South America back then,” said Paulette Watson, the third director in the tournament’s history. “Bowling is now a major sport in Central and South America, and they keep coming here.”
The inaugural Tournament of The Americas started with 16 players from 10 countries, counting a Miami man and woman who represented “Free Cuba.” Canada, Peru and Nicaragua were represented by one male bowler each. Guatemala, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the United States and Chile each had one man and one woman, with Honduras represented by one female bowler.
That historic debut tournament occurred at Cloverleaf Lanes in North Dade County, where it continued to grow until those lanes closed in 2004. The tournament moved to Fort Lauderdale for three years, then Orlando the next three and returned to South Florida in 2011.
“I never thought it would go 51 years. No one did,” Watson said, “but it’s the oldest tournament of its kind, and we continue to bring in the best of the best.”
There were various divisions (juniors, adults, seniors, super seniors) with bowlers rolling individual and team competitions.
Team USA’s Pete Thomas of Oklahoma City bowled a 300 in the first game of the tournament. What a way to start. He became the second senior to bowl a perfect game in the tournament’s history en route to winning multiple gold medals in the Senior Division.
Pete Thomas YouTube interview on the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Brittni Hamilton, also of Team USA, was outstanding winning six medals (four gold, one silver, one bronze) in the Adult Division.
Brittni Hamilton YouTube interview on the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Josie Earnest, Ed Roberts and Steve Smith also won multiple medals to help lead Team USA.
Earnest and Hamilton were highly-decorated teammates on the Vanderbilt University women’s bowling team. Bowling is a scholarship sport for women at various colleges throughout the United States.
Hamilton is from Webster, N.Y. where she attended Webster Thomas High School. Earnest is from Vandalia, Ill., a graduate of Vandalia High School.
A standout bowler and academic standout, Earnest is currently an assistant coach at Vanderbilt with aspirations (like Hamilton) of pro bowling success.
Josie Earnest YouTube interview on the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Smith, a San Diego resident, is a former collegiate basketball player who played professionally in the Philippines. After some injuries and his age, he decided to transition into bowling, and he’s doing pretty good. At the Tournament of the Americas, he bowled a 299 game.
Steve Smith YouTube interview on the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Roberts, who is from Braintree, Mass, did very well in the Super Senior Division.
Ed Roberts YouTube interview on the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Bowling is a popular participation sport in the United States. Spectator sport, not so much.
The casual fan may know Pete Weber, but personalities (characters) are limited, very limited, in the sport.
Paulette Watson, tournament director of the Tournament of the Americas, is a long-time bowling advocate.
Paulette Watson YouTube interview on the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Team Canada’s Susan Grande won two silver and two bronze medals. Grande qualified to represent her country at the Tournament of the Americas, something she was proud to do, but like some, she had to pay her own way. Unfortunately, funding is limited in bowling, even when wearing your country’s colors and winning for it.
Susan Grande YouTube interview on the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Bahamas Bowling Delegate Joanne Woodside-Powell discusses bowling in her homeland.
Joanne Woodside-Powell YouTube interview on the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Venezuela Coach Massimo Fridegotto and some of his junior bowlers speak bowling (English and Spanish).
Team Venezuela YouTube interviews on the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
TOURNAMENT of the AMERICAS
At Strikers Lanes, Sunrise
ADULT TEAM STANDINGS
1. Colombia 8,050; 2. United States 7,981; 3. Canada 7,844; 4. Venezuela 7,541; 5. Mexico 7,540; 6. Bahamas 7,282; 7. Aruba 7,162; 8. Chile 6,627; 9. Brazil 3,634; 10. Ecuador 1,757.
SENIOR TEAM STANDINGS
1. United States 7,589; 2. Canada 7,148; 3. Venezuela 7,042; 4. Puerto Rico 6,796; 5. Mexico 6,715; 6. Bahamas 6,507; 7. Colombia 6,284; 8. Curacao 1,810.
SUPER SENIOR TEAM STANDINGS
1. United States 7,769; 2. Mexico 6,899; 3. Puerto Rico 6,806; 4. Canada 6,745; 5. Colombia 6,623; 6. Bahamas 4,925; 7. Venezuela 3,519.
JUNIOR A TEAM STANDINGS
1. United States 7,878; 2. Puerto Rico 7,411; 3. Canada 7,355; 4. Venezuela 6,907; 5. Colombia 6,878; 6. Aruba 5,347; 7. Peru 3,251; 8. Curacao 2,853.
JUNIOR B TEAM STANDINGS
1. United States 7,607; 2. Venezuela 7,029; 3. Colombia 6,916; 4. Puerto Rico 6,816; 5. Curacao 1,723; 6. Peru 1,462.
ADULT WOMEN ALL EVENTS
1. Brittni Hamilton, U.S., 6,970; 2. Valerie Calberry, Canada, 6,910; 3. Josie Earnest, U.S., 6,855; 4. Alicia Marcano, Venezuela, 6,627; 5. Anggie Ramirez, Colombia, 6,609.
ADULT MEN ALL EVENTS
1. Steve Smith, U.S., 7,470; 2. Andres Gomez, Colombia, 7,214; 3. Eddie Vandaniker, U.S., 7,120; 4. Joe Ciach, Canada, 6,966; 5. Manuel Otalora, Colombia, 6,864.
SENIOR WOMEN ALL EVENTS
1. Paula Vidad, U.S., 6,630; 2. Char Hammel, U.S., 6,078; 3. Susan Grande, Canada, 5,976; 4. Joan Rojas, Venezuela, 5,913; 5. Sherry Hobson, Canada, 5,785.
SENIOR MEN ALL EVENTS
1. Pete Thomas, U.S., 7,144; 2. Ramon Torres, Puerto Rico, 6,500; 3. Bubba Haney, U.S., 6,458; 4. Miles Nerona, Canada, 6,434; 5. Arturo Hernandez, Venezuela, 6,354.
SUPER SENIOR WOMEN ALL EVENTS
1. Dana Miller-Mackie, U.S., 6,588; 2. Marion Marko, Canada, 5,833; 3. Lourdes Ortega, Mexico, 5,750; 4. Millie Torres, Puerto Rico, 5,727; 5. Susan Garcia, Mexico, 5,713.
SUPER SENIOR MEN ALL EVENTS
1. Ed Roberts, U.S., 6,823; 2. Dave Hurtt, U.S., 6,669; 3. Mario Boneta, Mexico, 6,521; 4. Mario Aguayo, Mexico, 6,209; 5. Tito Combas, Puerto Rico, 6,112.
JUNIOR A GIRLS (16-19) ALL EVENTS
1. Morgan O’Brien, U.S., 6,467; 2. Alexa Rodriguez, Puerto Rico, 6,415; 3. Laura Plazas, Colombia, 6,335; 4. Kamilah Dammers, Aruba, 6,331; 5. Elise Bolton, U.S., 6,279.
JUNIOR A BOYS (16-19) ALL EVENTS
1. Andrew Anderson, U.S., 7,156; 2. Jordan Klassen, Canada, 6,915; 3. Michael Coffey, U.S., 6,818; 4. Mitch Hupe, Canada, 6,536; 5. Alexander Wiscovitch, Puerto Rico, 6,499.
JUNIOR B GIRLS (12-15) ALL EVENTS
1. Breanna Clemmer, U.S., 6,598; 2. Ashley Dunn, U.S., 6,365; 3. Lisvier Cardenas, Venezuela, 6,156; 4. Maria Camila Restrepo, Colombia, 5,985; 5. Estefania Prieto, Colombia, 5,976.
JUNIOR B BOYS (12-15) ALL EVENTS
1. Wesley Low, Jr., U.S., 6,599; 2. Massimiliano Fridegotto, Venezuela, 6,516; 3. Rafael A. Pizarro Diaz, Puerto Rico, 6,456; 4. Bradley Crouse, U.S., 6,271; 5. Carlos Granados, Venezuela, 6,113.
NATIONAL ALL EVENTS ADULT DIVISION
1. United States 28,415; 2. Colombia 27,205; 3. Canada 27,072; 4. Venezuela 26,098; 5. Bahamas 24,758; 6. Mexico 24,546; 7. Aruba 24,332; 8. Chile 22,584; 9. Brazil 12,172; 10. Ecuador 5,925.
NATIONAL ALL EVENTS SENIOR DIVISION
1. United States 26,310; 2. Canada 24,157; 3. Venezuela 23,739; 4. Mexico 23,243; 5. Puerto Rico 23,159; 6. Bahamas 22,586; 7. Colombia 20,964; 8. Curacao 6,086.
NATIONAL ALL EVENTS SUPER SENIOR DIV
1. United States 25,686; 2. Mexico 24,193; 3. Canada 23,197; 4. Puerto Rico 23,143; 5. Colombia 23,088; 6. Bahamas 16,827; 7. Venezuela 12,012.
NATIONAL ALL EVENTS JUNIOR A DIVISION
1. United States 26,720; 2. Canada 25,557; 3. Puerto Rico 24,563; 4. Venezuela 24,247; 5. Colombia 23,836; 6. Aruba 17,922; 7. Peru 12,116; 8. Curacao 10,004.
NATIONAL ALL EVENTS JUNIOR B DIVISION
1. United States 25,833; 2. Venezuela 24,206; 3. Colombia 23,506; 4. Puerto Rico 23,369; 5. Peru 8,845; 6. Curacao 5,592.