My open letter to all of my M.I.S.T. bowlers…
It is with a huge mixture of emotions that I am writing this, especially after such an electric weekend at Bayside Bowl, but here goes. As of August 21, 2017 (after our M.I.S.T. Master of the Lanes event) I will no longer be running the Maine Invitational Scratch Tournament (M.I.S.T.) series. This was not a decision that came lightly to me, and has taken months for me to decide, but I am now 100% sure of my decision to walk away at this time. When I started the M.I.S.T., there was no scratch bowling in Maine, it had faded away over the years, and my goal was to put Maine back on the map, to show the rest of New England that we CAN have superior scratch bowling action here and attract some of the best bowlers in New England in the process. I feel we have achieved success on all of these fronts. Over the past 9 years I have seen this small tournament series become formidable, I have seen bowlers literally grow up on the lanes with us, and have been proud of the achievements of so many who have bowled in our tournament series. I have run over 80 tournaments, and paid out well over $100,000 in prize money over the years. I am proud of those numbers, but I am more proud of the way the tournament series has been run, and the way our bowlers responded to it. I love challenging bowlers, putting out shots that some tournaments may shy away from because they’re afraid bowlers will stay home, but our bowlers welcomed the challenge, and always said bring it on! Entries grew every year of the M.I.S.T. and we even reached out to other states to host events, something unheard of a decade ago, but I don’t like to take no for an answer. But, for all the success, it is time for me to walk away. There are many reasons, and I am always very candid with my bowlers, so I will be here as well.
Before I get into my own reasons for stepping away, I want to thank all of the M.I.S.T. sponsors over the years, without you none of this could have been possible. Moore’s Pro Shop, our longest running sponsor, Brunswick Bowling and their incredible products, Bowl Pro Sales and John Bovoy, BowlingChat and Eric Morrett, Tibo Art and Aaron Thiboutot, Maine Clockworks and Joe Kenney, Twisted T’s and Lisa and Don Austin, Ace Mitchell and Vincent Grazn, and anyone else I may have forgotten over the years THANK YOU!! Your support of grass roots scratch bowling is what helps keep it alive and well for generations to come, and I hope that whoever runs a scratch tournament series here in the future, you will support them the same way that you have supported the M.I.S.T. these past 9 years. The honor has truly been all mine. I also want to thank all of the bowling centers the M.I.S.T. has used over the years, the center managers, owners, and employees for allowing us to come into your bowling alleys and provide exciting tournament action these past 9 years. I have enjoyed the friendships made and working relationships I have built up, and I wish each center well in the future and hope scratch bowling continues to grow as it has the last decade here in the Northeast.
As far as my reasons for leaving, here goes. Running these events takes a tremendous amount of time for me, to do events right and keep bowlers coming back, that’s what it takes, in my opinion . My philosophy has always been to put as much of the money coming in back in the bowler’s pockets, and I feel we have always stood by that and made it happen, which is another reason why bowlers liked bowling our events, along with my evil genius plans to try and keep scores over 200 nearly impossible to attain consistently. I’m proud of our reputation for hard shots and having to EARN every pin you get. Putting in results, setting up events, updating Bowler of the Year points, keeping the Facebook page as well as the website up to date, finding and retaining sponsors, taking entries, dealing with cancellations and waiting lists, setting up dates with bowling centers, and of course all the work that goes into tournament day, all with a minimal staff of myself and my wife for the most part. I am grateful to friends who have helped on tournament days over the years, people like Karen Libby, Amanda Welch, Amanda Ward, Audra Mercier, and a few others I am sure that I am missing. I appreciate the work you all have done and will never forget it, you all rock! Of course, my biggest helper and supporter is my wife Angeliec, who does a great job every tournament, and who has the job of dealing with me and my attitude if things don’t go right. I love you and thank you for all the help and support over the years, I couldn’t have done it without you. Working with bowlers on the broadcasts like Jimmy Clark, Scott Moore, Mallory Nutting, Brian Gaskill, Mike Desimone, Steve Babb, youth bowlers like Shayne Macfarlane, and anyone else who has been on the mic with me, it has been a blast and I am truly thankful to all of you. Another reason I am stepping away is that I want to be there for my daughter Avery as she takes the next step in her bowling career. We have a lot of tournaments, mostly out of state, that we want to bring her to, and she has made such tremendous strides in her game, I want to give her the best opportunity to blossom as a bowler. I cannot divide my time up enough to put together the types of tournaments I normally run, and also be there to see her compete, and with her being a junior in high school this coming year, I don’t want to miss any more of her events. Also, as much enjoyment as I have gotten from making lifelong friends running these tournaments, and seeing bowlers compete, it has taken a lot of my own time away from the lanes, and forced me to cut back on my own tournament bowling to run events. With Avery’s upcoming schedule, and my own desire to compete in some tournaments, I want to focus on my family and my own game for the first time in a long time, and just enjoy competing in the sport I love. Lastly, I have enjoyed the M.I.S.T., it’s like my own child that I have watched grow and something I am truly proud of, but I am also exhausted. I take things with this tournament to heart, I can’t do it any other way, and the amount of time I spend doing things between events really is truly exhausting mentally. Nine years is a long time, and I want to step away before I feel that I may not run events up to the standard I have set for myself, and the standard my bowlers have come to expect. It is time for someone else to pick up the mantle and begin their own chapter of running quality scratch tournaments in Maine. I believe I am leaving the next person in great shape, with a loyal following of bowlers who enjoy competing in this great state, and that’s all I can do as I begin the next chapter in my own bowling career.
Lastly, I want to thank you, the bowlers, for making the M.I.S.T. what it has become, and what it has symbolized for Maine scratch bowling. I appreciate and truly care for each and every bowler who has dared to step in our ring and face off with some of the hardest lane conditions in the country, and the whole time never backing down to the challenge. It is because of bowlers like you that I know the sport is not dead, it’s not even on the decline, it is entering a new chapter that will help carry it into the next decade and beyond, stronger than it was before. Thank you for letting me come along for the ride, to try and provide an environment that would challenge you and reward you all at the same time. If any of you are looking to run a tournament series, or want to take over the M.I.S.T. as it stands now, I am all ears. I would certainly endorse the right person for the job, because I feel our bowlers deserve the best and I will not settle for anything less for them. I will certainly let our sponsors know that whoever steps up and decides to run tournaments, that they have my blessing and I hope our sponsors decide to go with that person and their own vision for what scratch bowling can become in the future. So, thank you once again for the ride, it has been fun, and I look forward to what the future brings. Good luck and good bowling out there everyone.
Don’t fear though, all is not lost. I plan to run our summer M.I.S.T. bracket tournaments every year, and will work with Charlie Mitchell on coming up with some exciting events in the future!!
James Goulding III, M.I.S.T. Tournament Director