BOWL Magazine Interview: CHRIS JOHNSON

March 1996

Chris Johnson started duckpin bowling at age 4 at Fair Lanes Capital Plaza when the manager there would regularly turn on a lane and let him practice while his mother bowled in a league. Johnson later competed in duckpin tournaments in the Baltimore/Washington area, but when Capital Plaza converted its 32 duckpin lanes to tenpins prior to the 1981-82 season, the eight-year-old Johnson did not make the move to the now-all-duckpin Fair Lanes College Park. Instead, he got a Black Knight bowling ball from a neighbor and tried the big-pin game in an adult/youth league at Bowl America Kent.

In his teen-age years, Johnson participated in the Teenpinners league at Capital Plaza and focused his efforts on the game while attending Eleanor Roosevelt High School, and his dedicated did not go unrewarded: He won the gold medal in the 1989 Maryland State Games, and the following year, he was a Vern Burke Scholarship winner. In 1991-92, he was a 600 Club doubles champion, the Virginia State scratch singles champion, and a member of the Vir-Mar District scratch team champs. In 1992-93, his final season of junior competition, Johnson won the prestigious Vir-Mar District Invitational, was a member of the TNBA National Junior Championship team, and was runner-up for bowler of the year honors of the Mid-Atlantic Scratch Bowlers Association.

Since joining ABC, he has rolled three 300 games and a high series of 801. In 1994, he won a Fair Lanes Summer Tour stop. Last year, he won the scratch division of both the Sports Plus/Carmen Don Super Tournament and the Syd Jones Tournament at Alexandria. He next won the Tournament Concepts' Players Scratch Classic at University and then pulled off his biggest accomplishment to date, capturing his first PBA regional title in Raleigh, N.C.

Johnson, 24, a resident of Mitchellville, Md., recently visited the NCABA office to discuss his bowling career and other topics of interest with BOWL Magazine Editor Bob Cosgrove.


How would you describe yourself to others?

As far as bowling-wise, I consider myself a friendly person. I really don't have a dislike toward any other bowlers. I try to be friendly and talk to everyone. If someone asks a question, I'll tell them.

I'm an open person and friendly—you can ask anybody. I don't try to put down anybody else or anything like that. I get along with almost everybody.


And away from the lanes?

I guess it's a little different; I'm probably not as talkative. If I'm bowling, I know everyone there who bowls, so bowling can always be the first thing I say something about.

Away from the bowling alley, I'm kind of quiet to myself. If someone comes and talks to me, I'll talk back. But if I were in a restaurant or anywhere by myself, I wouldn't say a word.


When did you realize that bowling would play a large role in your life?

I'd say in high school. I really enjoyed it, and I used to watch the tour on TV. I'd find ways to get out of the house to watch the commercial league at Capital Plaza, and I'd go to Kent to watch leagues on Friday nights and Silver Hill on Tuesday nights. I'd also watch pot games. I was just always interested.

On Thursday nights, people used to think that I was in the league because I was there so much just watching guys like Ron Holt, Brian Poole, Norbert Taylor, Jim Taylor, Bobby Holmes, and Magic Gray. I just looked up to those guys a lot. I thought it was something I'd like to do.


Did you watch a lot of bowling on TV?

Once I became serious about it and was watching a lot of guys locally, then I would always watch the tour.


Any favorites?

Earl Anthony, of course. Parker Bohn III, Mike Aulby. I don't see him that much, but also Randy Pedersen. For some reason, something about him—maybe it's his personality or whatever, I like him. Pete Weber, too, because he was always entertaining to watch.

In my first pro-am, I bowled with Guppy Troup, and it was ironic because I beat him to win a regional.


Was there a particular event that made you serious about your bowling?

In my youth, I think it was the Mid-Atlantic Scratch Tournament—my winning that focused me. As an adult, winning John Parks' Tournament Concepts Players Scratch Classic was a big accomplishment. That helped me think that I really can do this because I had to beat a lot of tough guys to win that tournament. That has helped me a lot in my PBA career.


How important to your career was your victory in the 1993 YABA Vir-Mar District Invitational?

I enjoyed winning that because I knew it was going to be my final year [of YABA competition]. I could have bowled another year, but I didn't want to because I thought it was time to move on. I wanted to win that one to go out on a high note. It was a good tournament—it's the Invitational—and a lot of people who had won it in the past went on to the adult leagues and became big names, and I wanted to do the same thing.


Why were you at this year's Invitational finals?

There was a strong field from Capital Plaza that made the finals, and that's where I came from. Every now and then, I try to go [to Capital Plaza] on Saturdays to help, and I don't go as much as I should, but it's almost like a give-back type of thing.

The coaches were there, and I just try to help encourage and motivate and pump up the bowlers. If I can say anything to help, great—then I'm happy.

They don't ask for much, and I think as long as they see me there, they're happy. Plus, it was a joy to watch. I went to a couple of rounds, and I got into it as much as when I bowled in it.


Who has inspired you the most?

My parents. They work hard every day, and when I was young, they provided a good living for me. They stayed on me so that I never got into any trouble. I was kind of a nerd in high school. I didn't do anything, as far as bad things. I never really got into trouble.


That made you a nerd?

No, it didn't make me a nerd, but I lived a boring life.


Were you a good student?

I was pretty good—I think I was a "B" student in high school. I stayed out of trouble basically because I was scared of my father—I am scared of my father! I have the kind of father you don't want to get mad. I didn't want to disappoint him.

I didn't want to disappoint my mother, either. I mean, I just got my first speeding ticket two years ago.


What was it like entering adult competition?

One league wasn't too competitive, but on Tuesday nights in the Shades of Soul league at Silver Hill, there was Ron Holt, Wilson Rowe, Glenn Callaway, and people I used to watch bowl all the time.

I remember I was nervous—I shot 530 the first night. At that point, I was kind of worried: It can't be like this all the time. But I realized it was just a night that I was looking around too much and wasn't focused on bowling.


Do you remember your first adult tournament?

Yes—the Masters at Twinbrook. There were people I had seen before who I really didn't know, but I had heard of their names. As I looked around, I thought I was going to cash in this tournament because I didn't know a lot of the people. The people I knew were the people I worried about; the other people, I didn't have any concern about. I did cash in that tournament.

A week later at Crofton, Lee Brosius and Brian Bever were on the lanes to my left, Magic [Gray], John Gaines, and Mike Tanner of Baltimore were to my right. I knew Magic—I didn't know the other guys. I was just watching Brosius do nothing to the ball, and yet he was just destroying everything. He was like a machine—280, 270. After a while, I just couldn't believe this. Bever was hooking the ball, and I was just in awe.

There were a lot more bowlers out here than I thought.


Did they know that you were a rookie?

I think a lot of people knew me because I used to write an article for BOWL Magazine [in 1992-93]. Others had just heard my name around. I didn't know I got as much attention as I did.


What was it like writing for BOWL Magazine?

That was fun. That's how a lot of people knew me, particularly those in the Manassas and Herndon areas who I really didn't know. When they saw me they'd ask, "Aren't you in the magazine?" or "Do you write the [`Junior Jottings'] article?" I'd say yes, so people would always come and talk to me.


Did you enjoy being recognized?

I enjoyed the popularity. I have sort of, not a big ego, but a small ego, and I like to go places and have everybody know me. I consider myself a friendly person, and so I like people to come talk to me and I'll talk back to them.


Did being recognized ever become a nuisance?

Not really. One time someone called me at the house at around midnight. I don't want to say his name—actually it was his mother who called—and said I spelled [her son's] name wrong! I used to have my number listed at the end of the column, and I think she had called earlier, and I wasn't home. But it was late when she called back. In the next issue, I included a "Sorry about that...."


Who has helped you most with your game?

In high school, when someone first saw some potential, Bobby Holmes started working with me and helped my game a lot. I used to basically just throw the ball hard—gun the ball up 10. He taught me to slow down and let the ball do the work—the basics.

And then from there, as I got older and when Bobby went out on the PBA Senior Tour, I was getting help from a lot of people. Magic Gray helped me with my arm swing. Norbert Taylor helped me learn that I have to play all over the lane.

Scott Bailey of the Strike Zone has been real good. Between him and Jim Colley, they've done a lot to help me. They do all of my drilling, and they always try to make sure that I have the right ball in my hand, particularly when I to go to regionals.

Tony Chapman also has showed me a couple of things about pin placements and a couple of balls I might want to try. So has Norbert Taylor.


How have resin balls affected your game?

When I first knew bowling, there was urethane and then it went to resin. I hear all the guys talk about the time when they hooked rubber balls and plastic balls, but I never experienced any of that. [Resin] was just a new ball that was out. It wasn't totally different; it was just a gradual change.


How important is money to your bowling?

That's basically why I went adult—for money. I'm not going to say it's the No. 1 thing. It definitely is important, but I like to compete, and I enjoy bowling a lot. I've bowled in a lot of tournaments where there's not much money up top, but there's 20 to 25 guys there, like the sweepers at Centreville where there might be at best $200 up top.

Money does play a factor, but it's more format and cash ratio because I'm not so concerned as to what's up top, but I like an event to pay more spots.


Does equipment have too much of an influence on the game today?

A little bit. You have guys who basically don't do anything to the ball but can throw it straight and have the resin hook for them—they can buy a hook out of the box. There will be tournaments where those people will run away with it, and you have to deal with it. There are also going to be tournaments where they're not going to have a clue. You just have to be there at the right tournament.


Is there frustration in having to keep up with the technology to stay competitive, no matter what kind of bowler you are?

Not really, because I don't think I'm the best bowler in the area. I feel I can be competitive. So whatever equipment I have to use to stay competitive and keep on going, that's what I have to do.


Isn't there pressure put on you if you hear that some ball has just come out and it could make a difference for you?

It can be very expensive to do that. You've just got to know your game and what you can and can't do. If you have a ball that can work on the wet/dry, you don't need another ball—the '96 model is going to do the same thing. You've got to know when to buy stuff and when not to.


Is that when someone at a pro shop who knows your game can keep his eye out for you?

Yes, but you have to know your own game yourself. Even though Scott and Jim do stuff for me, I bring stuff to them a lot of times: "What about the new Brunswick ball? The new Ebonite?" And then I get their opinion, and I trust what they say.


What's the best part of your game?

I consider myself very aggressive. When it comes down to the crunch, and in most situations if I need a decent last game, 60 percent of the time I can get it. I never give up. I keep trying, no matter what.

I can be losing by 40 pins in match play, and I'm always thinking that if I strike out, [my opponent] might foul—you never know what's going to happen. I never quit.


When you need that strike in the ninth or tenth frame, what thoughts are going through your mind while you're on the bench?

I just try to relax and take a deep breath and just go through the motions—picture yourself throwing a good shot, throwing a strike, and hope it's there for you.


What part of your game needs the most improvement?

I'm hesitant to go inside. I've been trying to work on it, but it's definitely not a strong part of my game right now.


Is it a matter you're being of slow to change or not wanting to move in at all?

A little of both. I practice it, and people help me do it, and I can play it. But in tournament play, I'm hesitant to go in because I feel I'm at a disadvantage, and I'm not as comfortable as I should be. But I'm slowly working on that.


Some of the left-handed pros on TV this past year have played much deeper inside than in previous years. Has that encouraged you?

I've seen Jason [Couch] way right. If he can do it—not to say I'm better than him, but if he can play it—there's no reason I shouldn't be able to do that, too.


Why have lefties done so well locally in scratch competition during the last year?

For one, I'm never one of those lefties. For some reason, I can't play well when the left side might have the world—I'm the one lefty sitting on the bench watching them bowl. I can never figure that out. I don't know if my speed's off or whatever.

To answer your question, a lot of left-handers who are winning, like Bruce Hollen, Howard Marshall, or Ernest Spriggs, are all great bowlers.

Brian Bever, a right-hander, is winning a lot. So is Brosius. The fact that there are lefties winning, I don't think, has anything to do with it. There are not many of us out there, so our shot will hold up more so than for a righty.

The lefties who are winning are big-name lefties, so to me, it's no big deal.


Do you hear the complaints?

Oh, yes, all the time. But they can't say it to me because I'm the lefty who's usually not bowling! Thus, when I hear them, it makes me feel kind of bad because I'm thinking that if all these other lefties are out there, How come I couldn't?


What little-known local players have potential and likely will become much better-known players in the future?

People can say that about me! Kevin Suer, before he went away to college, was getting there. A couple of other guys—Nehru Ali, Forrest Whitfield, Mike Sanders, Greg Turner—can be there at any time.


When you bowl on a late squad, who might you want to watch to line up?

Not so much to line up, but just see where they're playing—guys like Tom Middleton, Jim Einhorn, Ernest Spriggs, Brian Poole, and Richie Wolfe, of course. I try to see what ball they're using, what surface, and how they're lined up. Not to copy what they do, but just to get an idea where they're at.


Is there anyone whose game is close to your's?

I'd say Spriggs first because we both have a lot of ball speed, and so I try to get something off of him. Even though Joe Ashley is stronger than me, I think we have similar rolls.


Was your PBA regional win last August your biggest bowling thrill thus far?

Yes. That's what I'd been waiting for: to win a PBA tournament. I was the only lefty there (in the top 16), but I had a great ball reaction. I could get it wide a little bit, I had a little tug, and everything clicked.

I qualified something like 13th on Saturday, grinded my way to made the top five on Sunday, and then climbed the ladder. I defeated Guppy Troup 215-194 for the title and $4,000.


What were your feelings at the time?

It was great. I was a little nervous after I won. Jim Lewis and Barry Hartman had hung around, and both congratulated me.

There was a mike, and I had to give a little speech, thanking the sponsors and congratulating Guppy for second place. It was surprising because for the last two years I was thinking about that moment and what I was going to say when I won. And then, when it came, I was speechless.


You were facing Guppy Troup, an eight-time national PBA champion and a legend in regional competition, for the title. What were your thoughts entering that match?

I knew I had a good reaction on both lanes. I had overheard some people say that he did not get a good reaction on those lanes, so I just told myself not worry about who he is and just bowl—throw your game.

I didn't want to pay attention—I didn't watch him bowl. I just kind of went through the motions. I could tell that he wasn't shooting anything. I try not to look at the score, but I do sometimes, I have to admit.

I finished the match first, and I remember looking up before the ninth frame, and I saw what he could go out for. I knew basically to keep it clean and keep my count great.

I leave the 7-pin in the ninth and make that, 7-pin in the 10th and make that. I looked up and needed a strike in the fill to shut him out.

The things that I were telling you about: just line up, stay calm, relaxed, go through the shot—I did that and struck. That was the greatest moment right there. I couldn't believe I had won—I had to look at the score again.

The crowd was definitely pro-Guppy because it was in Carolina—his area. I had earlier bowled a guy from Raleigh [N.C.], so I wasn't the crowd favorite there, and that might have motivated me more because, with the exception of Jim Lewis and Barry Hartman, I was basically there by myself.

It was a five-hour trip back, but I was smiling all the way. I didn't go home. Instead, with my check still in my pocket, I went to Fair Lanes Laurel to see Duane Goode, who sponsors me in most of my regional tournaments. He gave me a hug and congratulated me—it was a great moment.

I have sort of, not a big ego,
but a small ego, and I like to go places
and have everybody know me.

What local players do you respect the most?

All of them! I don't fear anybody, but I respect all of them. When I go to a Masters tournament, of the 90 or 100 who are there, all of them can win the tournament. I'm just out there to do what I can to post something.

To answer your question, I'd say Rich Dodge, Gerry Flemming, Richie Wolfe, Lee Brosius, Brian Bever, Tony Walton, Bobby Hall II, Tony Chapman, Norman Smith, Brian DeMatte, John Tragert. I know I forgot a lot of people, and I'm going to pay for that!


How would you rank yourself locally?

There are a lot of very good bowlers in this area, but I don't feel like ... I'm not quite ....


But you've won a regional.

Yes, that was one tournament. It was hard at first, because, I admit, about a week or two after I won that tournament, I kind of got a little big-headed. I won a regional! I'm a regional champ! That was great—that was a great feeling.

Then I think that reality set in: Two weeks later, I bowled the next regional and didn't cash. Then a week later, I bowled another regional and didn't cash. And then I realized that was just one tournament—that was past history, and it's old news now.

I have to compete every week. You're only as good as your last performance—that's something Tony Walton told me.


What are your goals for this year?

I'm going to be a little selective in the regionals I bowl. Last year, I bowled a lot of regionals and put a lot of wear and tear on my truck. Since I've bowled in nearly every center we hit in the east and south, I can be more selective. Last year, I bowled in close to 20 tournaments; this year, I might hit 12.


Any more goals?

I'd like to win another regional this year, but I take it as it comes. If I can just bowl well, consistently cash, and make the finals—even if I don't win—I think I'll still be satisfied with my performance.

I'd like to bowl a little better locally. That's one thing I'm going to try to focus on. I don't consider myself a good local bowler, for some reason. Maybe I press, I'm not sure. I've had a couple of good performances here and there, but there's been nothing stand-out.


Who do you travel with?

Gerry Flemming, Bobby Hall II, Tony Walton, and Norman Smith. I can get along with almost anybody.

If anybody from the area says he's going to such-and-such a tournament, and they ask me to ride with them and I'm not riding with anybody, sure, I'll split expenses for the room and everything. I don't smoke, I don't stay up late, and I'm very laid back, so I can get along with almost anybody.


Are people now expecting more from you following your regional win?

Maybe that's my problem: I'm trying to do too much, too well. I'm not trying to think about that so much and just bowl and hopefully have a good local season.

In the Masters in 1995, I was nowhere near [the top of] the points list, nowhere near the top average. That was partly because I didn't bowl as many tournaments because I was bowling regionals all the time.

If I was down in South Carolina or up in Long Island, New York, I just didn't feel like getting up that early in the morning to drive back for a local tournament.


Are you going to bowl in more national PBA tournaments?

Last year, I bowled in one and didn't do well. I'm a resident PBA member, and I'm going to try to bowl five national tournaments this year. There are about six on the east coast, so I want to try to hit those.

I just don't want to go to one and then come home and go to another one three months later. I'd like to try to go two or three weeks straight. That way, you get into a routine, a rhythm.

Those guys on tour are great bowlers, but I think if I'm out with them week after week after week, I could eventually do something out there.


What was it like in Rochester, N.Y., last November in your first national PBA event?

That was an experience. Norman Smith and I rode up to that tournament. It was the national tour. I walked by and saw Walter Ray Williams Jr., Norm Duke, Wolfe, [Dave] D'Entremont—all those guys walking about. We were like, Wow, we're not in Kansas anymore! I'll remember that experience.


Was it a problem getting used to being around the name players?

It was, I think, at first. The first squad I drew Don Moser, Mark Williams, and Phil Ringener—all veterans. Even though Moser and Ringener hadn't won, they've been around and have made money out there. When I looked at the sheet and saw who I was crossing with, I was like, Wow, I've seen those guys on TV!

I tried not to think about it, but the first round I think I was trying too hard because I knew they were going to strike. I pressed, and that put me in a hole right away.


What would be your ideal five bowlers to have on a TV show?

I hope I see Richie Wolfe there. Richie's a great guy, and he and I get along well. He's also drilled a ball for me before. It's his time. He's due to win—he has to win. Every time I turn on the TV, I hope to see Richie on the telecast.

Jason Couch, because he's one of the best left-handers out there. He can play anywhere, and he straps the ball—a whole lot. He's a nice guy who I met at a regional. He helped me get a ball at my first national PBA event in Rochester, N.Y.

Parker Bohn III, because when I was growing up, I always looked up to him; I thought he was a great bowler. I met him at an eastern regional, and he gave me some advice after the tournament. He's a great guy.

Even though a lot of people don't like Bob Vespi, I remember when I was in the paddock in Myrtle Beach [S.C.]—during the first finals that I ever made—eating breakfast, and he walked in, sat down, and we had a 20-minute conversation about Hardee's biscuits. He seemed like a nice guy, but when I bowled him, he was very aggressive.

People who see him on the lanes may think that he's not a good person, a jerk. Off the lanes, he was an average guy, a nice guy.

Pete Weber, because he's Pete. He's similar to Vespi—he gets into the matches, slaps shots, and runs everything out. He's entertaining to watch.


Do any such actions ever distract you?

No, because I try to keep to myself and stay focused.

There used to be a single-elimination tournament at Alexandria, and I got knocked out early every week for about three weeks. [Noted local instructor] Gary Parsons came up and basically told me that my mental game stunk, and he gave me a copy of George Allen's book, The Mental Game, which has helped me a lot, a whole lot.

I try to read certain chapters before almost every tournament. It helps me to relax and stay calm.


How's your mental game now?

It's not the best, but it's definitely better than it was. It takes a lot to upset me.

I see a lot of matches where one guy carries a weak, light shot or goes through the face and gets a crumbler, and the other guy is outraged, saying, "Why me? Why me?"

If it happens to me, I try not to think that he should have left a split or a 10-pin—it happened, just get on with it. I keep an eye on what my opponent has, but I don't worry about it too much. I bowl my game.


Have you ever choked in a key pressure situation?

Yesterday in a match at Shady Grove, I could have struck out for 260 in the last game. In the key shot in the 10th frame, everything looked good, but I kind of lost my footing on the approach. It caused me to throw my head up, and I tugged the ball a little bit, but enough to leave the 6-pin.

In a local king of the hill tournament, I whiffed a 7-pin to lose a match.

It happens. You don't like it to happen, but it does.

I consider myself a decent spare-shooter and strong in the tenth. I knew I needed the spare, but I blew it [in both situations]. That was me, and I knew I should have [made the shots].

I'm very hard on myself when I do something wrong, but I don't blame anybody else. It was me.


Do you take situations like that home with you?

When I drive home, I think about it for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and then usually by the time I get home, it's forgotten.


What do you like to do away from the lanes?

I like to watch basketball—I'm a big Bullets fan. I also like shooting pool. A couple of guys have tried to get me into golf, but I don't think that's going to happen. I don't seem to have the patience.


What is something your fellow bowlers don't know about you?

A lot of people are surprised that I like jazz music and all other different kinds of music.


Do you buy a lot of CDs?

I used to work at Kemp Mill records. From that, I could listen to jazz, some rock songs, R & B, rap—I can listen to any kind of music. That surprises a lot of people. I've had people in my truck, and they'd listen and ask, "What are you listening to?"


Who are your favorite jazz artists?

Walter Beasley, Ronald Jordan, and Branford Marsalis.


How important is bowling in your life right now?

Bowling is probably one of the most important things in my life right now. Everyone I know who knows me knows that I bowl. Out of seven days, I'm in a bowling alley four to five days. That's what I do; I'm a bowler. The IRS sends me stuff through the mail that I've gotta pay for. I'm a bowler—it's a part-time job.

If I were to get married one day, the woman I marry would have to understand that I am a bowler. I'd be a homemaker, a husband, a father—all that, too—but I would also be a bowler.


How do you envision your bowling career five years from now?

I don't know about the future of the PBA. This year, I'm definitely going to take more interest in reading my flyers about upcoming PBA meetings and the board of directors stuff and all that because I didn't do it as much as I should have last year.

In five years, I hope to have my travel agency going, and I'll be a weekend warrior, competing in regionals all the time and hitting seven, eight, or 10 national stops. Hopefully, I can make a show.

I'm not sure if I want to go full-time on the tour. I've done a lot of regionals, and I do enjoy travelling, but I don't know if that's something I want to do.

CHRIS JOHNSON: Up close and personal

Traits you like about yourself: I have a don't-give-up attitude. I consider myself a friendly and nice person. I try to treat everybody the same.

Traits you deplore about yourself: I procrastinate a lot, and I'm a little lazy at times.

Quality you like most in a person: Honesty.

Quality you dislike most in a person: Dishonesty. I don't like people who are phony.

Pet peeve: I don't like people who smoke. Particularly, I don't like bowling with people who smoke. I don't like cigarette smoke.

Bad habits: I procrastinate a lot, and I bite my nails.

Personal vehicle: Isuzu Rodeo.

Person in history you'd like to meet: Martin Luther King Jr.

Living persons you'd like to meet: Eddie Murphy and Sylvester Stallone—I was a Rocky fan.

Three guests on a on a desert island: Martin Luther King Jr., Hitler (to find out why he thought the way he did), and Maya Angelou.

Most treasured possession: My grandfather's watch, given to me by my grandmother. It's in my room. I don't wear it because I don't want anything to happen to it.

Most interesting local bowler: Jim Lewis is into the weather, and he can explain to you anything about it. He should be a meteorologist. That's his thing. If I'm travelling to a regional, I can ask him if I'm going to hit any bad weather. A lot of people probably didn't know that!

Hobbies: Listening to music, watching basketball, going to comedy shows.

Last book read: The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Favorite cereals: Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and Kellogg's Corn Pops.

Favorite dinners: Spaghetti, fried chicken, and barbecued ribs.

Favorite fast-food joint: Popeye's.

Favorite beverage: Iced tea.

Favorite TV programs: "Living Single," and "Seinfeld."

Favorite movie: Indecent Proposal and Boyz N the Hood.

Favorite actor: Laurence Fishburne.

Favorite actress: Halle Berry.

Idea of perfect happiness: To live comfortably, have a steady job, be able to bowl when I want to, and have a wife, kids, a dog, a nice house.

Greatest feat: Winning the regional. Outside of bowling, it hasn't happened yet, but it will probably be the day I get married or have my first child.

Greatest fear: Letting my mother down. Me and my mother have a close relationship. It's been like that since I was a child. Actually, it's letting my parents down. Both of them have high expectations for me.

Greatest regret: I didn't push myself as hard as I could have in high school. If I could have pushed myself a little more and applied myself, I could have gone to [a four-year] college. But I didn't, and it was my fault. So I only went to [Prince George's Community College], and then I never really did anything outstanding there. I kind of regret that. … I'm older now, and I can appreciate it more. That's why when I go to travel agent school this fall, I'm definitely going to apply myself.

Motto: Always try. Never give up. Keep striving, keep on going. •