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    Tourney director Garrett strikes up many friendships

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 11, 2002

    John "J.J." Garrett III looks at life from three different angles and likes what he sees.

    As a bowler for 50-plus years, Garrett says he has made more friends than as a 20-year Air Force retiree or 14-year agent for the Florida Department of Revenue. "I have met some fine folks during all those years and at all those places, but never so many and so fine as in the bowling world," Garrett said.

    The executive director for the Florida Senior Tournament, Garrett was in town last weekend to run a state event at Seminole Lanes. The Orlando resident will return this weekend for the final round.

    Garrett, 68, started in the sport half a century ago in Buffalo, N.Y., but just competing wasn't enough. "I thought early on that I had more to offer to bowling than a 180 average, so I worked at serving in whatever capacity I could," he recalled.

    Garrett also is the executive director of the Orlando Association and the Florida State Association.

    "You'll notice that "men' is not mentioned in any of those," Garrett said, smiling. "That's because when the ABC eliminated its gender clause, all men's associations dropped that part of the title. It was good for bowling."

    What's good for the sport is what Garrett cares about.

    Several years ago, he suggested to the state senior tourney board that, after 33 seasons of singles and doubles competition, it should add a team event.

    "They all said, "Oh, no, we can't do that, nobody will come!' Well, last year when we first offered the team event, we had 92 squads," Garrett said. "And this year, in this big house right in the middle of Florida, we drew 126 teams.

    "I'd call that good for bowling."

    Garrett's second shift last Sunday filled the 60-lane center. And why didn't anyone, including Garrett, think of that before?

    "Well, I guess we just were caught up in the old format and stuck with it," he said.

    The Florida State Senior Tournament has about 30 women competing.

    "Oh, yes, since the gender thing went out, women are becoming more active in men's events, and I love it," Garrett said. "They may not be as formidable, but they are just as competitive and they are all welcome."

    The competition is based on age groups from 55 and older. There are payoffs in each division based on entries.

    Johnny Olney of Martin County leads the Special Event Division 4 standings with a 1,209 pinfall and is atop the doubles with Harlow Wessel at 1,240.

    Anderson Lawn Care of Sarasota is the team leader, 2,649. Division singles front-runners are Richard Lindstadt, 703; Tom Struwing, 709; Don Stewart, 720; and Jerry McDonald, 709.

    The event concludes Sunday. Then Garrett will move on to state and national tournaments and endless meetings, all the time trying to get in enough games to hold his average. "Heck, it's great fun just running to keep up," Garrett said, "and I wouldn't have it any other way." AROUND THE LANES: Michael Wetherell fired his second 300 game in as many months at Countryside Lanes. He finished with a 794 series to go with his previous 300-816. ... Scott Price nailed a 300-683 at Sunshine Bowl. ... Derek Dzierba rolled a 300-804 at Sunrise Lanes. ... Josh Romine recorded a 300-682 at Seminole Lanes. Ed Minor had a 300-727 and Lance Lonsdale a 300-789. Tom Palmer and James Campbell logged 299 games. ... Chuck Miller fired an 817 series at Dunedin Lanes, Don Ussmeier recorded a 300-749 and Alex Theofilos shot a 300-745. ... Entry forms are available for the 65th annual St. Petersburg Association City Tournament, Feb. 16-17 and Feb. 23-24 at Seminole Lanes. ... Registration closes Tuesday for the Florida Women's Association state event in Jacksonville. The tournament starts April 6. ... Entry forms are available for the ABCBrunswick World Team Challenge, Feb. 9-10 at Seminole Lanes. The team fee is $550.

    -- Phil Gulick can be reached at

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