Annual BVL/VA Bowling Tournament Provides Fun, Fitness and Friendship for Veterans Coast to Coast
Veterans from Oregon to New York tested their bowling skills and vied for bragging rights in the recently-concluded 71st Annual BVL/VA Bowling Tournament. This year’s event saw some of the traditional powerhouses rise to the top of the leaderboard – including teams from the Providence (RI) and Washington DC VA facilities in the Outpatient and Electronic Bowling Divisions respectively; but also several surprise first place finishes from the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center in the Inpatient Division and the Columbus (OH) Ambulatory Care Center in the Vision Impaired Division.
Teams compete at or near their VA facility and scores are submitted online to BVL by the recreation therapist coordinating the team. The tournament has seven different divisions based on patient accommodations and interests.
“Recreation Therapists at VA hospitals around the country tell us that the tournament offers a great source of camaraderie for the veterans – we are always delighted to hear the stories of the cheering and high fives that are part and parcel of this team event,” says BVL Executive Director Mary Harrar. “BVL is in the business of providing positive recreational opportunities for our nation’s veterans, but since our roots are in bowling, this event is very special to us!”
The Providence team has been coordinated for years by Henry Rea who explains that bowling has long been an integral part of their recreation therapy program, noting “It’s a sport that can be enjoyed by any one of any age and offers options for veterans at every level of rehabilitation.”
Bowling is also considered to be a ‘bridge’ sport, which can help veterans with skills necessary to transfer back to community life.
Rea adds that although his veteran bowlers were introduced to the sport as a therapy, they’ve all completely taken to the game – often bowling two or three times a week at an area bowling center that provides discounts for the veterans. (Shout out to Lang’s Bowlarama www.langsbowlarama.com!)
Gerald Montgomery, Recreation Therapist at the Southern Oregon VA facility explains, “The bowling opportunities truly help the Veterans in their recovery and independence and in structuring their leisure time while here in treatment.”
Recreation Therapist Thomas Kumroy from the Cleveland VAMC says, “I have to agree with the words of one of the Veteran bowlers who shared that the tournament acts as a goal. I noticed that when I offered Wii bowling ‘warm-ups’ preparing for the bowling tournament, Veterans would come to participate more. The Veteran anticipation and excitement for the tournament created an ‘event.’ When it came time for the tournament and bowling time, the Veterans were consistent in their participation and they were encouraging and supportive of their fellow teammates. Krumroy also shared an anecdotal story of a veteran who started to go to wheelchair yoga because he said that he ‘had to work on strengthening his core for the tournament.’ “Now there’s incentive!” said Krumroy.
The top three division winners for the 2018 event are:
Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center + Clinics 6957
Saint Cloud (MN) VAMC 6301
Saint Cloud (MN) VAMC 6194
Providence (RI) VAMC 9307
Jefferson Barracks (MO) VAMC 8004
Grand Junction (CO) Veterans HCS 7996
Northport (NY) VA 7949
Jefferson Barracks (MO) VAMC 7905
Jefferson Barracks (MO) VAMC 6959
Columbus (OH) Veterans Ambulatory Care Center 4846
Columbus (OH) Veterans Ambulatory Care Center 2556
Cleveland (OH) VAMC 8571
Memphis (TN) VAMC 6354
Bath (NY) VAMC 5833
Washington DC VAMC 11753
Memphis (TN) VAMC 8196
Central Arkansas Veterans HCS 7956
Electronic Bowling Seniors
Northport (NY) VAMC 10504
Washington DC VAMC 10243
St. Cloud (MN) VA HCS 9738
The inaugural BVL/VA Bowling Tournament was launched on the White House bowling lanes in 1947 by President Harry Truman for the injured WWII troops. It has been a mainstay of the recreational therapy programs in the VA system since.