Barely two days after a blizzard hit Long Island, Woodmere resident Kevin Smith and 88 other bowlers competed in the Long Island Generations Bowling Tour (LIGBT) at AMF Plainview Lanes on Feb. 10.
Smith, 31, has been bowling since he was 8 years old. “I’ve been bowling my whole life and I was looking for a place to join a league,” he said. “It’s a way for me to get away from everything for a little while and it’s fun for me.”
He moved back to Woodmere from South Carolina eight months ago. Last summer, Smith joined the summer bowling league at Woodmere Lanes on Broadway and signed up again for the winter league, which competes on Monday nights. His teammate, Valley Stream resident Marlon Canas, told him about the LIGBT tournament at AMF Plainview Lanes. “I hadn’t bowled in an organized league since 2003 so it was a very big deal for me,” Smith said.
Canas, who has been bowling at Woodmere Lanes for the past decade, has competed in the LIGBT tournament three times and thought Smith would want to participate. “It had been a while since I went to one and I was feeling good about it,” he said. “And Kevin is competitive so I figured he’d like that.”
In the final round, 18 bowlers competed for the top spot. Smith defeated Hicksville resident Darcy Monroe 263 to 249 and won the grand prize of $1,000. “My last title before that was when I was 13 in South Carolina so there’s a big difference from one title to the next,” he said. “It was a great way to come back after being out for such a long time and I was just as excited to bring it back to my home center, Woodmere Lanes.”
Nick Paxinos, Woodmere Lanes owner, said Smith is a passionate bowler who relies on his heart and his consistency to win. “His biggest asset is that he doesn’t rely on lane conditions to bowl well and I feel that he can achieve success on many conditions and not many bowlers can say that,” Paxinos said. “It’s hard to win one tournament, some guys never win, but if anyone could do it, Kevin is the guy.”
Less than 24 hours after winning, Smith received dozens of congratulatory texts and Facebook messages. “Word travels fast,” he said. “I made a lot of friends I didn’t know I had.”
Canas said he’s happy for Smith. “I wasn’t surprised, he deserves it,” Canas said. “A lot of people want to win but when you see someone who comes in with so much energy and as a newcomer, I felt really good for him.”
Though Smith said he bowls purely for recreation, he dedicated his tournament win to those who supported him. “Bowling is what I like to do for fun,” he said. “And the win wasn’t just for me, it’s for the people surrounding me, my friends, teammates and home center. It’s amazing and now a lot of my competitors will know who I am.”