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Reigning queen rolls 700+ series

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Stuart Camp
  • 1st SOW Public Affairs
Every bowling alley recognizes its top bowlers, prominently displaying the highest scores earned on its lanes. This denotes royalty, however fleeting it may be. Recently, Hurlburt Field's reigning queen added her name to the "best scores" with a 764 series.

Considering that three perfect games equal a 900 series, Donna Brown's score averages out to 254 pins a game. In fact, her games of 248, 237 and 279 came during a bowling league match.

"I was just rolling it. I couldn't miss," she said while energetically explaining how she was using a new ball that night - one of four she owns.

Ms. Brown, an executive assistant in the Air Force Special Operations Command headquarters' A4 directorate, nearly threw a near-perfect game the night of her high series.

"Everyone thought I'd get a 300, but I left a solid six," she said, referring to her 11 strikes in a row before leaving the six-pin on her second ball of the 10th frame. Of course, she picked up the spare with her final ball.

As a reward for the high-series, the U.S. Bowling Congress presented her with a polo shirt, a pin and a ball towel noting the 700-series.

"It (the series score) is rare even for women out on the pro circuit," Ms. Brown said.

Mimi Lambert, local president of the U.S. Bowling Congress and former manager at the Hurlburt Field bowling center, plied Ms. Brown with high praise - carrying the alley's highest average (better than 190 a game) on top of her high-series.

"She has a feel for the game," Mrs. Lambert said.

Ms. Brown credits her passion for the game - which she said came from her father - for the recent results.

She sat down for the interview and looked extremely comfortable amid the bright colors and din of a busy bowling alley -- the rumble of balls rolling down the lane, the crash of pins, the chatter and laughter. Ms. Brown has been bowling since she was five years old as a member of a bowling family.

"I'm the runt of the family on the lanes," she admitted.

Bowling is a game with a passionate following. It's promoted as the number one participation sport in America because it can be played regardless of the weather or time of day, or a person's disability, fitness level or age.

Call her a pied-piper of the game; Ms. Brown is infectious about the game.

"She loves bowling. She's very competitive, but she also has fun," said Frank Perkins, her intramural league teammate on the AFSOC B squad.

The brown-haired, spectacled, 40-something year old woman of Guamanian decent has passed on the family tradition to her two teenaged sons, and she's recruited her boyfriend, too.

"I bowl because I know how," the single mother said. "It's like a fellowship," she said.

Talking above the noise of bowlers warming up for intramural bowling league, friends plopped down in seats at the table, talking about what "game" the group will play, what lane they're bowling on. And she dug into her black gadget bag loaded with two balls, towels, small bag with powders, resins, creams, lotions and bandages for the occasional torn skin on the fingers.

"Her father gave her the love of the game, and she's expanded upon it," Mrs. Lambert said.

Ms. Brown has grooved her five-step delivery and soft-hook delivery of her 15-pound ball, but not through hours and hours of practice. Bowling has no off-season, and Ms. Brown participates in two leagues year 'round. Currently, she bowls in two leagues - Sunday mixed and Thursday intramurals - but she's been in as many as three leagues while subbing in a couple more.

"She's good, and I've worked with a lot of professional bowlers." Mrs. Lambert said. "I think she's got the game for it (professional bowling)."

The night of the high series and near-perfect game, Ms. Brown said, "We were just having fun."

She explained that she's chatty and social in between her frames, but there's a serene focus while she's on the lane.

"I'm a pure bowler," she said. "If I kept practicing, I could go pro," Ms. Brown said.

Lambert immediately offered to work with her to improve, albeit slightly.

"She needs some fine tuning," Mrs. Lambert said.

The U.S. Bowling Congress representative said this would include strength training - tournaments demand stamina as bowlers roll more than six games a day.

"I don't do a lot of practicing. I get tired," Ms. Brown said.

The AFSOC civil servant has bowled at the highest echelon. Last year, she competed, and won, the women's U.S. Open.

But, she said, the highlight of the year wasn't the $4,000 check she got for the Open championship.

"It's been the improvement," she said.

Call this her come-back year. Since transferring to Hurlburt Field three years ago, bowling has been a struggle. Ms. Brown had lost her stroke.

"I am just now recovering," she said.

So, at least twice a week, she'll be in the Hurlburt Field lanes, bowling with friends and improving her game.