REYNOLDSVILLE — A Reynoldsville man who started scoring strikes around the age of 12 is following his passion and drive for competition around the country this summer.
Tom Sliwinski hit the road today for the “PBA50 Tour” — the Professional Bowling Association’s 2019 national tour — which begins April 14 in Clearwater, Florida, and ends in August in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Sliwinski and his biggest supporter, his wife, Laurie, will travel in their newly-purchased motorhome to nine states — 15 stops — throughout the almost five-month period.
His dream started in youth bowling leagues in Trenton, New Jersey, where Sliwinski was born and raised. He bowled on his high school team, and won the South Jersey Championship in 1971.
Prior to the tour, Sliwinski was practicing for more than two hours a day, he said, at Brookville Lanes on Thursdays, and DuBois Lanes on Mondays.
The “PBA50 Tour” is also known as the “senior tour,” Sliwinski says, because bowlers must be over the age of 50 to qualify.
Sliwinski has been a PBA member for 15 years. Bowlers must have a 200 average to be accepted. After rupturing a tendon in his hand, he took a five-year break from bowling, which he says was a hard thing to do.
His three sons, T.J., Nick and Matt, are also bowlers, participating in programs or on the Penn State University bowling team.
“We come from a bowling family,” Sliwinski says.
He’s been participating in the PBA Regional Tour since 2004, Sliwinski says, bowling against 40-60 competitors over a series of weekends.
The national tour is quite the step up. One tournament has 160 competitors, while another has 192 or 250, each composed of U.S. and international bowlers.
Sliwinski will be facing competitors he used to watch on television, he adds, calling this the “next high level” for his bowling career.
“This was always on my bucket list,” he said.
When it comes to hitting the lanes, Sliwinski said he enjoys the rush of competition, as well as the fellowship. It’s a great way to stay active and social when he’s “semi-retired,” he says, adding he still works as an independent insurance agent.
Sliwinski says he hopes to see the youth bowling movement on the rise again locally. There are a lot of young, talented and passionate bowlers in the DuBois area, he said.
The sport is a great way for bowlers of any age to make friends and enjoy some friendly competition, he adds.
Laurie retired from her general manager position at the Red Lobster in DuBois last August, so this is the perfect time for them to travel and see the sights, and for Sliwinski to take his dream one step further. They plan to stop at places like the Grand Canyon in Arizona and national parks in Utah, he said.
“Bowling is the reason we are going, but we are going to see the country,” he said.
For more information on the PBA50 Tour, visit www.pba.com.