Staff Sgt. Erik Phillips

Staff Sgt. Erik Phillips ()

Staff Sgt. Erik Phillips rolled his way to the top last month during the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Bowling Championships in the U.K.

Phillips, 30, of the 48th Munitions Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, won the single, doubles and team competitions, effectively dominating the event. Based on his experience, it doesn’t seem like it was too much of a contest to begin with.

Have you been bowling for a while?

Close to 20 years.

How’d you get into it?

My family. I first picked up a bowling ball around 7. I didn’t start competing until I was 13.

How was it competitively bowling at such a young age?

A lot of kids I bowled with are either professionals or high-ranking amateurs now.

Did you ever aspire to the pros?

There was a time I did, but I needed to focus towards a more solid future. Bowling doesn’t offer that unless you become one of the top 50 bowlers in the world.

How was the USAFE competition during the tourney?

It was a lot more than I expected. It was the first time I competed at the USAFE level.

Any tricks to success?

The mental game. It’s by far the most important portion of someone’s game. It’s being able to control your emotions, not being intimidated by what’s out there.

Why do you bowl?

I bowl because I enjoy competition. And it’s hard to find decent competition.

What’s the hardest part?

Conditioning. Being able to handle a lot of games per day. Blistering is usually the biggest problem amongst bowlers. Believe it or not, bowling punishes your body, the constant bending and sliding.

When Hollywood’s gone to the bowling alley, it’s been the Dude in “The Big Lebowski” and Woody Harrelson’s character in “Kingpin.” How true to life are those depictions?

I like “Kingpin” because it’s a comedy, but it doesn’t portray bowlers accurately. “The Big Lebowski” is more about the drinking aspect of it. I don’t drink when I play. Every bowling alley you go to, you meet unsavory characters like that. There’s always someone conning you into something.

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