BY JOE JACQUEZ
Winning is what it’s all about for players on the PBA Tour week in and week out.
Creating once-in-a-lifetime memories is what it’s all about for kids who get to bowl, high-five and talk with their favorite players for a few hours during weekly Pro-Ams.
For junior and league bowlers and little kids in Colorado Springs who are still learning the ropes, but have that infectious energy that adults can only dream of possibly having after a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, Tuesday night’s Pro-Ams were everything.
It meant the world to each and every person, both parent and participant, in attendance at Harmony Bowl. You didn’t need to talk to anybody to glean that; watching and listening was enough.
Take 7-year-old Zahvier Young-Williams. He was as giddy as anybody in the building, jumping around with a big, wide smile on his face, running back to his dad for a high-five or a hug after every shot.
But on one particular shot, a flush strike in the pocket after a quick but efficient approach and a beautiful two-handed release, former PBA Player of the Year and USBC Masters champion Andrew Anderson clapped his hands and, as Zahvier walked back, gave him a high-five.
But Zahvier, with a sense of pure excitement all his own, ran so quickly back to his dad that he didn’t even see Andrew.
His Dad let him know, saying something like, “Hey buddy, Andrew wants to give you a high-five.” So he ran back over, jumped up in the air with his arm outstretched and slapped his open palm into Andrew’s.
They both laughed it off and continued to enjoy each other’s company.
Check out video of the moment here: https://twitter.com/BowlersJournal/status/1506676008979554304?cxt=HHwWgICjrZ725OgpAAAA
But why in the world did Zahvier not see Andrew after the strike?
“I just forgot,” Zahvier said with an innocent, wry smile on his face.
As for the entire experience of bowling with so many pros, including Anderson and U.S. Open champion Chris Via?
“It was cool,” he said.
What more is there to say?
Zahvier’s sister, Caroline Springer, also got to bowl with both Anderson and Via and she said it was easy but challenging at the same time.
“It was a good experience,” Springer said.
The game of his life
The house erupted, and for good reason, after 13-year-old junior bowler Diego Lujan almost shot 300, besting the score of Anderson.
Running to his dad for a big embrace, you could tell Lujan was in awe and having the time of his life.
“Many of these bowlers were phenomenal and amazed at my technique as well,” Lujan said. “To be honest, this tournament was incredible and a miracle for every junior bowler out here today.”
Lujan has a unique style all his own. He is a two-handed lefty but he puts his fingers in the ball with his right hand and uses his left to release the ball.
“They were saying this was the first time they had seen a two-handed lefty who puts his right-hand in the ball,” Lujan said. “I’m not sure I’m the only one in the world that does this, but, not to brag or anything, I feel like I might be.”
Growing the sport
The players are here to compete and win titles, but for Chris Via and many other PBA players, the Pro-Am is arguably just as, if not more important.
“It’s always fun, especially when you get the younger kids to come out,” Via said. “They have a bunch of love for the sport and they just want to have fun and that’s what it’s all about.
“I think we need to take advantage of our sport, having the accessibility that we do to the professionals, and build that bond a little closer to our fans.”