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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Still in the chase
With two consecutive titles under his belt, Brandon Curley has tasted success and knows there's more waiting if he stays in the lanes.
By DEREK J. LaRIVIERE, Times Correspondent
Published December 21, 2007
Brandon Curley, 18, warms up for the S&J Youth Scholarship Tournament at Spring Hill Lanes on Sunday.
[David Degner | Times]
Curley's necklace was a gift from his grandmother after he bowled his first sanctioned 300 last November.
[David Degner | Times]
So what if Brandon Curley came up short in his attempt at a threepeat at this past weekend's 15th annual S&J Youth Scholarship Tournament? The future for this 18-year-old bowler is still as bright as ever.
The Central High graduate works part-time at Spring Hill Lanes and has dedicated a major part of his life to the sport. Motivated by early success against his peers, he takes in the support of his best friend and girlfriend to help bridge the gap between his local prowess and future goals.
Curley began competing at the age of 10 at Mariner Lanes. Learning the basics for four seasons, he then began bowling regularly at Spring Hill Lanes, and his talent reached new heights.
"When I moved over to Spring Hill Lanes is when I first realized that I could be pretty good," Curley said. "After that, I did everything I could to get better."
He was hired by Spring Hill Lanes owners George and Carlos Martins at the age of 16 and has been working there ever since. The job allows him to practice close to seven days a week and watch others to pick up tips.
Curley traces everything back to one moment in 2004 that opened the door for all his dreams. During the 12th annual S&J Youth Scholarship Tournament, he tossed his first-ever honor score, a 298.
"That game made me realize that there were a whole lot of things I still could accomplish," Curley said. "This tournament (the S&J Youth Scholarship Tournament) has always been good to me."
He finished in seventh place in 2004, and that was only the beginning. The next two seasons, he went on to win back-to-back titles in the event and two $500 scholarships for his efforts. Although he hasn't ruled out still competing as a youth bowler next season, his efforts this season found Curley chasing many goals.
During the 15th annual S&J Youth Scholarship Tournament at Spring Hill Lanes this past weekend, he had an opportunity to win three consecutive titles and add to a growing scholarship fund he is building for himself. Currently taking a year off from his studies, his ultimate goal is to go to the University of Central Florida and earn a spot on what many believe is the best collegiate bowling program in the state.
"Brandon works so hard," best friend Chris Polizzi said. "We both struggle a little bit with consistency, but we help each other out so much because we know each other's games so well."
Curley came up short on title number three after a slow start last Sunday, but in the end, he was still crediting girlfriend Rebecca Fryzel and Polizzi for his overall success.
"Rebecca and Chris are so important to everything I do," Curley said. "I know that people can sometimes lose focus when they take a year off from school like this, but I don't think that'll happen to me because of them."
Fryzel has pounded home to Curley how important it is for him to stay focused, while Polizzi, a star youth in his own right, helps him with all aspects of his game. Fighting the war to reach his potential on two fronts gives Curley a lot of confidence.
"Brandon wants everything so bad," Fryzel said. "Sometimes I try to get him to understand that it's important for him to just laugh and get his head back on straight."
Eventually, like most prodigies on the lanes, he is chasing a berth on the PBA Tour. His dreams aren't pipe dreams though. When he attends UCF, he intends to major in business and open a bowling center after graduation.