You're never too old to begin to bowl.
Case in point: Jim Brown of Columbia.
Brown did not pick up a bowling ball until he was 35.
He was too busy with his track career -- participating and teaching it. He started running back in Chestertown, where he attended Garnet High School. He progressed to Morgan State University and starred in the 800-meter distance race; he ran it in 1 minute, 50 seconds.
Then Brown spent the next 30 years as a track coach, 19 at Einstein High School in Montgomery County, where the teams he coached were outstanding. Their record included division champs, 10 years; county champs five times in a row; and state champs, three times.
Now Brown is assistanttrack coach at Morgan State University.
But back to bowling.
At 35, Brown began tenpin bowling, and these days he's in the Wednesday night league at Brunswick Columbia. He averages 198 with a high game of 289 and a high set of 735.
Last year, Brown, who lives in Columbia with his wife, Pat, decided that it was time to take the show on the road.
So at age 55, Brown joined the Senior Professional Bowling tour. At a time when many men retire from sports, here's Brown beginning a new career as a professional bowler.
The first week of June found Brown in Las Vegas, bowling with the likes of 1989 PBA Senior of the Year Jimmy Certain; Hall of Famer Dick Weber; 1973 PBA Player of the Year Don McCune, who gained his greatest notoriety for his"soaker ball" and this year was elected to the PBA Hall of Fame; andGlenn Allison, who threw three 300 games in a row.
Against the best senior bowlers in the world, Brown placed 39th.
And it was no fluke. Brown went on to the next stop on the senior tour, Flint, Mich., for the $55,000 Flint PBA Senior Open during the week of June 16-20.
"For me, it's the competition I like," Brown said, "At my age, it's the only sport where I can compete against the best in that sportand have a chance to win. And I get to meet some of the nicest people in the world. There's so many fine folks on the senior tour."
Brown finished 24th in the Flint tourney.
"Well, it can be tough," he said. "After eight-game blocks for several days in a row, it can bea little tiring. And sometimes it's difficult to keep your concentration focused. I know that in Las Vegas I forgot that the spots on theapproach switched from five to seven on some lanes, and I lined up wrong and threw a very bad ball because of it."
Come fall, Brown will return to Morgan State University.
Brown may be competitive, but at Brunswick, he's considered an all-around nice guy
"Jim Brown will help any bowler with his game," Barbara Deming, program coordinator of Brunswick Columbia lanes said.
"Jim has a big heart. Every Tuesday Jim comes in the center when he's not on tour just to coach other bowlers. And Jim never charges anyone for his help. He's just a great guy."
Every Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Brunswick Columbia, there's a double-elimination tournament.
The tournaments will run every week until the Fall/Winter leagues start. Call Mark Kimball at 381-7750 for more information.
In July and August, the LadiesNo-Tap and brunch tournaments continue at Brunswick Columbia.
Call 381-7750 and ask for Barbara for more information.
Summer leagues are still forming at Brunswick Normandy.
Call 465-0355 for information.
The Brunswick Columbia center has installed the automatic scorekeeping system, Colorvision. And the lanes have been resurfaced this summer.