This revenue cycle director is a professional bowler—and has even competed at the stadium made famous in the movie “Kingpin.”

HFMA member R. Jason Phillips doesn’t have any pro-bowling idols—because he believes he can beat them someday. 

Phillips, revenue cycle director for Indiana University Health Morgan Hospital in Martinsville, Ind., and a member of HFMA’s Indiana Pressler Memorial Chapter, has been a professional bowler since June 2008. He also owns a bowling store, custom-drilling bowling balls and providing lessons for those who wish to improve their game.

“It’s a thrill to put your shoes on and get on the lanes right next to guys you see on ESPN,” he says. 

Phillips first learned how to bowl 34 years ago at the age of 10. “My parents both bowled,” Phillips says. “They are both 84 now, and they still bowl in two leagues a week.” 

He took to the game right away and kept up with bowling throughout college and beyond, honing his skills even as his career in healthcare finance progressed. “I’d track my results, just as I would with any business process, and I’d videotape myself, looking for ways to improve,” he says. “In bowling, you’re never done learning. I’ve bowled three perfect games, but even then, there were things I could have done a little better. I’m continually looking for opportunities to improve.”

About five years ago, Phillips decided to join the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA). “I was a fairly accomplished league bowler, and I just wanted to measure myself against the best,” he says. Since then, he has participated in 41 PBA events, including two U.S. Opens, which Phillips calls the “most prestigious of all bowling tournaments.”

In November 2009, Phillips placed 15th at a PBA tourney in Springfield, Ohio—and collected his first check as a professional bowler, for $450.

“Professional bowling is a hobby for me; in no way, shape, or form is it a career,” Phillips says. “I bowl at least four days a week, for about six to eight hours a week. The time I spend bowling can be a release from the challenges of healthcare finance, but it can also be a source of frustration when I compete with the best in the sport. Among professional bowlers, I would be considered slightly below average—but I’m working hard to change that.”

One of the things Phillips loves best about bowling is that it’s a sport that is accessible to a wide variety of people, regardless of income level. “It has the reputation of being a blue-collar sport,” Phillips says. Today, premier bowling centers that cater to a younger, professional crowd are beginning to pop up around the country, providing a trendier atmosphere for the sport. But league bowling remains popular, and local bowling alleys still draw families looking for a fun night out. 

Some of Phillips’ favorite bowling memories are of games played at the “Taj Mahal of Tenpins,” the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. Featured in the movie “Kingpin,” the stadium features 78 championship lanes and the longest video screen in the world, projecting instant replays and state-of-the-art graphics. “In the movie, it looks like it could be a fake place, but it’s real,” he says. “It really is the epicenter of bowling.”

Few of Phillips’ HFMA colleagues know of his status as a professional bowler. Among his coworkers, his skill at bowling draws fascination—and the occasional contest. “Once, one of my colleagues challenged me to a game,” Phillips says. “He quickly realized he wasn’t going to beat me.”

Publication Date: Friday, March 01, 2013

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