Back to Military Life

Bowlers let good times roll on JBLM

Christopher Heron competes in the 12th annual Northwest Military Masters Bowling Tournament at Bowl Arena Lanes on Lewis Main Saturday. Photo courtesy JBLM PAO.

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

In March, Steve Fontana retired from 13 years between both Bowl Arena Lanes and Sounders Lanes on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

He could have handed the reigns of running the annual Northwest Military Masters bowling tournament to someone else, but he returned to host the tournament's 12th year inside Bowl Arena Lanes Saturday because he's passionate about the sport and seeing it grow in the military community that he's been a part of since 1980.

"My first job, they appointed me manager of a 32-lane facility," Fontana said. "(Bowling) made me a good living for my family, and I've been blessed."

The field of 21 bowlers included a mixture of active-duty service members, veterans, retirees, family members and Department of Defense civilian employees. With different careers and backgrounds, the one commonality is bowling.

Duke Ellington, a retired Air Force master sergeant and current administrator for Madigan Army Medical Center's Andersen Simulation Center, competed in the Northwest Military Masters for the 11th time. He said he's always bowled in leagues at every base he was stationed.

It's common for there to be a sense of fraternity with familiar faces who often return for the annual bowling tournament on JBLM.

"You like to stay friends with everybody," Ellington said. "It's fun, and it keeps the military spirit together."

Former Army corporal Chris Brewer, who is a biomedical equipment repairman at Madigan, said he's the kind of bowler who enjoys to "chit chat" with the regulars, as well as new faces. Although, it is a cash prize tournament with a $100 entry.

"Some people take it serious, but it's not a million dollar tournament," Brewer said. "But if folks don't want to chit chat, that's fine by me."

The tournament does attract plenty of talented bowlers from JBLM and nearby communities. The average bowler in this tournament bowls around 190.

The field of bowlers included Staff Sgt. Chris Arterburn, 46th Aviation Support Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, and Staff Sgt. Christopher Heron, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Brigade. Both attended the All-Army trials for the 2018 Armed Forces Bowling Championships earlier this month.

One new ace was Sgt. Johnny Lettery of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, I Corps. He arrived to JBLM last July and competed in the NW Military Masters for the first time.

Lettery often played in tournaments off base while stationed in Japan. He said he was looking forward to listening to what the other bowlers had to say about his form and technique.

"I feel like I get tips every time I bowl, so I'm always improving my game," Lettery said.

Another new face was Chief Master Sgt. Nick Hollinger, the senior enlisted adviser for JBLM Garrison command. Although he's never competed in any JBLM tournaments, Hollinger said he sees himself changing that when he retires in June.

"I figured why not," Hollinger said. "(I'm) seeing what the competition is here locally. As I'm getting closer to retirement, I'm really interested in seeing what the local talent can do."

The final cash prizes - $750, $550, $275, $200, $175 and $150 - went to the top six bowlers who advanced from the qualifying rounds. There were also side pots bowlers bought into for having the highest scores in each qualifying game - $50, $25 and $15.

"If you average 190 or higher, you should at least try it once," Brewer said.

Read next close


A dizzying bill

comments powered by Disqus