Kevin Poindexter grew up with a love for sports.
During his youth in Chicago, he played safety on his high school football team and competed regularly in pick-up basketball games.
Entering his senior year of high school in 1992, Poindexter enlisted in the Navy through the delayed entry program. He wanted an opportunity to see other parts of the world and develop valuable skills before going to college.
“I wasn’t ready to go to school at the time,” he said. “I wanted to join the military to get some experience under my belt then eventually go to school. It gave me a trade. It gave me structure and attention to detail.”
Poindexter had boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., before being stationed in Panama City, Fla., and Pensacola, Fla. He achieved an E-3 ranking and training as a diesel engineer.
After leaving the military in 1996, he returned to Chicago. The following year, at his home, an attempted carjacker shot Poindexter in the back. The shooting left him a paraplegic.
In an effort to escape the cold Chicago winters, he moved south to Savannah, Ga., and later to Charleston, S.C. In Charleston he learned about Paralyzed Veterans of America from a national service officer.
Poindexter relocated to Tampa in 2006. There he became involved with Paralyzed Veterans through the local Florida Gulf Coast Chapter.
Despite his injury, and perhaps a little unsure of where to focus his passion for sports, he had never lost the desire to compete. His interest in bowling sparked after he saw an inspiring performance by that chapter’s president.
“He is a quad. It just blew my mind that a quad could bowl as well as he bowled,” Poindexter said. “He was like my mentor, and it took me about two years to beat him. I fell in love with it after that.”
In addition to competition, he enjoys the camaraderie and has been further inspired.
“I got to meet a great group of guys,” he said. “I see some of the guys that have been doing it for at least 30 to 40 years and still doing it now at a good pace. I want to see myself there in about 30 to 40 years if I live that long.”
Poindexter, 38, has achieved an impressive amount of success in bowling competitions. In 2010 he placed second in the Southern Open in Dallas, Ga., Later that year he earned first prize in a doubles competition in Las Vegas and won the “B” Division of the Memorial Tournament in Largo, Fla. In 2012 he won the state championship in the “B” Division of the 50th Annual Florida Wheelchair Bowling Association Championship.
In addition to his bowling accolades, Poindexter has earned high finishes in trapshooting, nine ball and table tennis.
He’s pleased with his success.
“It has been very rewarding,” he said. “I love to compete.”
Poindexter has contributed to chapter management and growth as well, having served for about three years as sports director. In that capacity he has been a part of reestablishing the billiards program, a bass tournament and a golf tournament.
Poindexter’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. The chapter honored him with the Homer Townsend Award in 2010 and 2012, presented for outstanding service to the chapter.
But for him, the biggest reward has been the work itself.
“I just love sports and I love what I’m doing,” he said.
R. Sirvell Carter is a freelance writer, editor and researcher living in Huntsville, Alabama.