Many children dream of earning a spot on Team USA. For most, the vision never manifests, but Citizen Potawatomi Nation Human Resource Generalist Fero Williams overcame the barriers. He earned a spot on USA’s Bowling Team from 2006 to 2008. Williams brings the same level of dedication required to reach such a prestigious milestone to his position at the Nation.
“I tell everyone I was born in the bowling center, and I was raised in the bowling center,” he said, then laughed. “Those were my stomping grounds that I grew up in. It was a great thing, and it opened doors for me.”
“King of 60 Feet”
During his youth, Williams enjoyed the variety of activities and cultures found throughout Gardena, California.
“You had many different avenues of education and sports,” he said. “I had a great childhood and a lot of friends. You got to know all different races and how everybody was raised different.”
His parents relocated from the southern United States to California before having Williams and his two older sisters. As they explored hobbies in their new state, bowling became a staple in their lives and eventually, their children’s as well. Time spent at the bowling alley with his parents as a kid inspires Williams today.
“My parents are who I look up to most because everything they learned about bowling, they learned from the book The Fundamentals of Bowling,” he explained. “They were self-taught, and for them to start where they started — both of them were really good bowlers in the city of Los Angeles.”
Williams continued the family tradition of hard work, putting in tremendous time and effort to hone his craft. He learned new shots by building muscle memory through repetition before focusing on precision.
“After I learned how to hook the ball and be able to get the ball to do what I wanted it to do, I then had to relearn how to be accurate and learn how to spare,” he said. “And once that happened, I started learning from the great local bowlers that I looked up to since I was a kid.”
Due to his talents, Williams eventually earned the nickname “King of 60 Feet” from fellow bowlers in Ohio, but he also had success in other sports. He played basketball and became an All-American cornerback and wide receiver in high school. Yet, bowling remained at the forefront. He received a scholarship to play the sport at El Camino College in Torrance, California.
“I started focusing more on bowling to make scholarship money, and football and basketball kind of went to the backside,” he said.
After five semesters at El Camino College, Williams transferred to the University of Southern California where he earned a bachelor’s in computer engineering.
Williams began working to earn a spot on Team USA at 14, and he kept trying to achieve the goal as an adult. However, when his dad passed away in 2005, he had a renewed sense of purpose.
“I feel as though he was pushing me spiritually because that was one of his dreams for me was to make the team,” Williams said.
He had not qualified for the United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials in more than five years, but he set out to make the 2006 competition. Williams played 24 qualifying games and 24 games of match play before moving onto the top five, which allowed him to vie for the 2006 National Amateur Championship title.
Although Williams lost the top award, he broke a few records and held second place throughout the week.
“Once I made it up the step ladder, and I was No. 2, I broke down because it was for (my dad),” he said. “I wish I would have been able to see his face once they announced my name.”
Williams attributes his success to his parents’ constant support and dedication.
“All of the work they put in — taking you to tournaments, spending money for you to go to tournaments, practicing equipment — it all leads up to that one point where you say, ‘I have arrived,’’’ he said.
As an HR generalist, Williams enjoys learning about Tribal operations and recruiting and keeping talented employees, but he has not forgotten his roots. He participates in several bowling leagues across central Oklahoma in his free time.
“Bowling is still my first love, and I’ll never, ever walk away from it because I’ve made a lot of friends, and it’s taken me places I’ve never been before,” Williams said.
Becoming a Team USA member is a highlight of his life, and he hopes to inspire bowlers for generations to come.
“The way I look at things, it’s not about how good I am on the lane; it’s my legacy that’s more important — what I have given back and done in the sport,” Williams said.