SUNRISE — Just like the balls he zips down lanes, Arek Jumper’s bowling resume is gaining momentum.
From delivering strikes at national tournaments in Chicago and Las Vegas to winning a youth state championship to serving as vice president of a bowling league, the 16-year-old from the Hollywood Reservation continues to excel in a sport he has experienced almost all his life.
“He grew up in the bowling alley. He used to watch us bowl,” said Arek’s mother, Tonya Jumper, while recalling those early days when the Jumper family – including Arek’s father, Andre Jumper, and grandfather David Jumper – bowled in Davie at the Don Carter alley, now called SpareZ. “He was always in the bowling alley.”
More than a decade later, Arek still spends a good chunk of his time in bowling alleys while carrying aspirations to play collegiately and professionally. After classes at Hollywood Hills High School, he practices about five days a week, usually at AMF Pembroke Pines Lanes; Sunday afternoons he bowls in the Cecil Johns Youth Bowling League at AMF; and Wednesday nights he bowls and is second in command in the Strikers Youth Sport Bowling League at the Strikers Family Sportscenter in Sunrise.
“I make sure the league is run smoothly and make sure there is nothing going on between the bowlers, and if the president is not here, I’ve got to take charge of the league,” Arek explained about his responsibilities in a league that helped land him in Chicago for the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Junior Gold Championships in July.
By finishing in first place in one of the Strikers quarterly seasons, Arek punched his ticket to the Windy City, where he competed with more than 3,000 youth bowlers. Arek didn’t advance past the three qualifying rounds in the 20U division, but he hopes to earn another shot in Junior Gold next summer in Indianapolis.
Bowling on big stages is not new to Arek, who has competed in an annual Native American tournament in Las Vegas for several years. In 2013, he won a USBC Florida state youth championship with Brent Frank, Jonathan Frank and Justin Frank.
Accomplishments aside, Arek said the comradery that emerges from competitions is gratifying.
“Whenever you go to tournaments, you get to meet new bowlers and new friends. It’s not like the same people every time,” he said. “I’ve met (Native) bowlers from California, Oregon, Washington.”
Similar to just about every serious bowler, Arek would like to light up the scoreboard with a perfect 300 someday. The closest he’s come to the magical mark was a 276 in practice a couple years ago. In June, he bowled a 641 for three games in the Strikers league, which included a 254 in the middle game.
When he picks up his 15-pound Storm Hy-Road ball and eyes the 10 pins 60 feet away, Arek employs a simple strategy.
“Just take your time. If you bowl a bad shot, don’t let it get to your head. Keep bowling,” he said.
Always eager to learn and improve his game, Arek often exchanges advice with his grandfather when they bowl together.
“Me and him always give each other pointers on how to bowl better games,” Arek said.
Arek also looks for tips while watching pro bowlers on TV. His favorite pro is Jason Belmonte.
Becoming a pro bowler is a future goal of Arek, who has no regrets that as a youngster he was more intrigued with a bowling ball rather than a football or baseball.
“I didn’t want to be in the hot sun playing those other sports,” he said.