GREAT BARRINGTON >> When Tom Hankey Jr. isn't trying to figure out what bowling shoe fits a 10-year-old at Cove Lanes in Great Barrington, he's winning gold medals with the Junior USA bowling team at the Tournament of Americas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
From July 24-30, Hankey, along with eight other junior bowlers from the U.S., faced competition from Costa Rica, Curacao, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
By the end of the week-long tournament, Team USA had won 31 of 45 possible gold medals, and Hankey won a total of eight medals — seven gold.
"It was a great feeling being able to represent your country," Hankey, 16, said, "especially against great competition."
Hankey was nervous heading into the tournament, but his friends and family would not let it affect his bowling.
"I had some confidence because of my support group," Hankey said. "I had a lot of people supporting me. Sharon Evans, the girl whom qualifies me, along with my parents were always offering support."
Of Hankey's seven gold medals, six came in singles events. The final gold, along with his one silver, came in the doubles and mixed doubles events.
"My coaches definitely helped me a lot," Hankey said. "I knew the competition was going to be pretty tough. As the week progressed, my coaches kept me level-headed."
Last year, Hankey won his age division national bowling championship in the United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championship, which aired on CBS Sports Network. The championship gave Hankey the roster spot on Team USA.
From September to June (with nationals in July), Hankey travels as far as three hours away just to compete in tournaments while also working at the bowling alley. While bowling is everywhere he turns, Hankey still loves it.
"I am used to it at this point," Hankey said, "The only bad days are when I need to wake up at 4 a.m. to make it a tournament and I am running on empty. I have never gotten sick of bowling."
Hankey has accomplished a lot in his 14 years of bowling, including 21 rounds of bowling 300, with his first one coming when he was 13. He's already won a lot as a junior bowler, but wants to accomplish a bit more in his final two years before qualifying as a professional bowler.
"I want to make match play in nationals (again)," Hankey said. "But, there is also a tournament called Teen Masters. Last year I came in 11th, my goal is to come in the top five."