The Lee Evans Tournament of The Americas is the oldest yearly international tournament in the American Zone and has been held for its first 42 years in Miami, Florida at the Cloverleaf Lanes, moving on the close of the Cloverleaf Lanes to Sawgrass Lanes, Sunrise, Florida for its 43rd year. The tournament has been credited by some as having had a key role in developing the sport of bowling in The Americas. Indeed, no other annual international tournament, bringing bowlers of the Americas together to represent their countries, existed when Lee Evans conceived this idea and traveled from country to country to make it a reality. The Tournament of The Americas is the only major tournament to have "mixed teams" of men and women. (See the beginning years on our Scrapbook pages.)
This is an invitational competition for countries of the American Zone to send their best bowlers, most usually their national teams, to compete in three divisions for men and women. In each division - adult, senior (ages 50+ only) and junior (ages 12-20)- one team, made up of two men and two women, competes in singles, doubles, mixed doubles, and team event throughout the week-long tournament. After 36 total games of bowling, individual all events and national all events champions are also recognized. In 2006, the Junior division will be divided into two age groups, 12 to 15 year olds and 16 to 20 year olds (19 [or15]+364 days as of Jan.1 of tournament year). There will then be four separate divisions for the Tournament of The Americas.
In the year 2000 a ranking system started for bowlers of the American Zone using scores from tournaments designated as #1,2 or 3 in importance. We are proud to have been chosen by the FIQ American Zone as a " #2 ranking tournament", however in 2004 the American Zone changed its rules for ranking to include only "open-to-all" tournaments, making the ToA ineligible for "ranking" (see American Zone pages for details).
Our 43rd year in our new home at Sawgrass Lanes, Sunrise, Broward County, Florida, was in some ways bittersweet. We missed our Cloverleaf home, but welcomed the opportunity to explore new places, work with new people, and enjoy the larger 64 lane bowling house. We thank our long-time sponsors AMF and Brunswick for their continued support, and welcome our new sponsor, Storm.
Future changes in sponsors, venue and staff are always possible, but whatever the changes, the Tournament of The Americas will go on "Uniting the Americas" through bowling.
PURPOSE OF THE TOURNAMENT
Through bowling as a sport, the Lee Evans Bowling Tournament of the Americas was founded with the purpose of furthering goodwill and understanding among the people of the Americas. It continues to remain dedicated to this goal with its theme "Bowling Unites the Americas", allowing people to come face-to-face with their hemispheric neighbors who have been separated by large distances, bodies of water or high mountains.
In many ways a family, participants of the Tournament of The Americas anticipate the arrival of each tournament and compete enthusiastically for the opportunity to represent their country, renew old acquaintances and make new friends.
The Tournament of The Americas, additionally, has been credited with greatly stimulating the development of bowling throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean.
Finally, but very importantly, is the publicity and promotional benefits of the Tournament of The Americas, which has gained prestige and importance throughout the world, that has made many people in South and Central America and the Caribbean much more aware of their welcoming Florida neighbors
HISTORY OF THE TOURNAMENT
The Lee Evans Tournament of The Americas has grown in size and stature during its many years of existence.
It has developed from an idea, a "fantasy", an "impossible dream", as it was called by some, to become one of the top international amateur sporting events in the world. More countries compete in the Tournament of The Americas than participate in any other annual amateur bowling event of its kind in the United States.
A great amount of effort went into planning and making the inaugural tournament a reality, and on July 26, 1963, as promised, the Tournament of the Americas began. That year, fewer bowlers participated in the event than countries did in 1988. Twenty-eight countries of the Western Hemisphere are invited to attend and generally, the tournament is host to about Twenty-four of the eligible countries each year.
Through the years, the Tournament of the Americas has grown, not only in number of bowlers, but in its variety of competition. The first tournament included only one man and one woman per country, with only singles and mixed doubles played. Since, an additional man and woman have been added, along with doubles, mixed foursomes, all events, and national all events. In the 10th year, the tournament included junior teams for the first time. For the 30th Anniversary, the tournament again expanded by adding a Senior Division, starting with men only, and then in 1993 added Senior Women to this new division. A complete country’s team now consists of a total of 12 players. Adding to the country's delegation are their support people -an Official Delegate and Coaches. In 2006, the tournament will split the Junior division into two age groups - 12 to 15 and 16 to 20 year olds, encouraging younger players to excel in bowling by giving them the opportunity of more international competition on their age level.
It took 18 years, until August 7, 1980, for a perfect 300 game in this tournament– by Guatemala’s Bruno Moys – and other 13 years, 1993, for the junior’s score to be matched by two youngsters from the USA. It was in 1992 when the first Adult Division 300 game was bowled by Marco Odio from Costa Rica. More 300 games have since been added to both Adult and Junior records.
It is most fitting that the tournament now memorializes Lee Evans, founder and executive director for its first 16 years. Mr. Evans devoted countless long hours and extended tireless efforts to nurture it from a dream to reality and then to the huge success it attained under his care and direction. His contributions will always be remembered as special awards will be presented in his memory to those who have distinguished themselves through either outstanding performances or other special qualities in the sport of bowling.
For the next 11 years, John I. Smith, General Manager of Cloverleaf Lanes and member of the tournament Staff from its inception, became the Executive Director of the newly formed Bowling Tournaments of the Americas Association and the Director of its tournaments. Through his inspiration and motivation, Mr. Smith continued the traditions, expanded the junior participation and became the positive force behind the tournament. Mr. Smith retired and moved to Iowa in March 1990, promoted Paulette Crowers Watson to head the Association and its tournaments but continued his involvement as a member of the Board of Directors. John I. Smith passed away in November 1996 and he and his direction will be greatly missed by all. In our hearts, the tournament participants and staff will always hear John start each squad with the words "Is everybody happy? Let’s go bowling!"
In 1997, the tournament welcomed AMF Bowling Worldwide as its first "title" sponsor and appropriately changed its name to the AMF Lee Evans Tournament of The Americas. The new century, the tournament's 39th in the year 2000, brought more recognition to the Tournament of The Americas as it was chosen to be one of the "ranking" events in the FIQ American Zone. In March 2001, AMF, a sponsor since the inception of our tournament, with regret, had to cancel their sponsorship due to their financial problems. In 2002 the tournament instituted a multi-level sponsorship program. We are fortunate to currently have Broward Sports Development Council and the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Sawgrass as gold sponsors, and Silver Sponsors Brunswick, QubicaAMF and Storm, and other companies at bronze level or advertising sponsors.
The Lee Evans Tournament of The Americas has grown to be an event of great prestige, not only because of outstanding efforts of those who work on the event and its supporters, but primarily due to the enthusiastic participation by the competitors. Though changes may take place, the real traditions of friendship, camaraderie and intense competition, started at its inception, will continue.