On a roll, R.I. professional bowler seeks to inspire girls of color

By Jack Perry
Journal Staff Writer

Posted Aug 18, 2020 at 6:49 PM

Gazmine “GG” Mason might be the best professional athlete from Rhode Island you’ve never heard of, but she’s trying to change that.

And not just with her game.

Mason, 25, grew up in Providence and Cranston, where she lives now. She bowled at the University of Nebraska and has won two regional events of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association.

But the young athlete is trying to do more than bowl strikes. She’s using her platform and charismatic personality to increase the sport’s profile and improve opportunities for young women of color.

On Tuesday, GG, which stands for Got Game, appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and bowled with Robin Roberts, a former professional basketball player and youth bowling champion in Mississippi.

Roberts described Mason as “an incredible young woman on a mission to break barriers” who is “inspiring a new generation of young women in bowling.”

A kid who liked basketball and ballet, Mason started bowling at 10, often traveling out of Rhode Island with the Providence Junior Senate Program to compete at tournaments in states such as New York, Ohio and Vermont.

She played for the Junior Team USA in 2015 and 2016, and she’s a member of Team USA 2020. Competing with the junior national team, she won 10 medals — three gold, six silver and one bronze. At Nebraska, she was a three-time All-American and was on the national championship team in 2015.

It was an experience with failure, though, that prompted her to form the group Black Girls Can Bowl 2 in January 2017.

Out of stock

Having “aged out” of the junior team, Mason tried out for Team USA in 2017 but didn’t make it. (She did make the team in 2020.) She acknowledges she didn’t bowl well enough to make the adult team in 2017 and wasn’t envious of anyone who made the team, but when she looked at the roster, she noticed “there was nobody there who looked like me.”

Through social media and speaking engagements at schools and clubs, Mason uses Black Girls Can Bowl 2 to connect with and support other bowlers of color and also to encourage young girls of color to pursue bowling and other goals.

“It’s a platform to share … to know you’re not alone,” she says.

Mason, who graduated from Nebraska with a degree in business administration and a minor in informatics, considers herself an ambassador for bowling and also an entrepreneur.


In 2018, she launched Got Game LLC, to help bring a higher profile to bowling. Her father, George, is CEO of the company.

“The mission is really to promote the sport of bowling so we have the opportunities of traditional sports,” Mason says. “For me, it’s not about the money; it’s more about the opportunity.”

She says a lot of people consider bowling “a recreational activity” rather than a sport, but it’s a sport that can earn a kid a college scholarship, as she did.

On its website, Got Game offers speaking engagements from Mason and an array of clothing and related items. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, she has had more time to promote bowling, because the sport itself is on hold. Normally running from April until September, with tournaments in places like Washington, Arizona and Nevada, the PWBA season has been suspended.

That gave her time to make an appearance on “GMA,” which aired Tuesday and was taped on Saturday — Mason’s 25th birthday. “That was one of the best birthdays I’ve had. It was a great time.” (By the way, she bowled 239 to Roberts’ 144.)

Mason acknowledges that despite the medals, the NCAA championship and the professional wins, she’s not often recognized around Rhode Island, except maybe by serious bowling fans.

She thinks it would be different if she played a sport like basketball.

She also thinks that can change.

“It will,” she says. “I have faith that it will.”

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