Last Place Champ

Gazmine Mason, affectionally known by her community as "GG," navigates the world of professional bowling while balancing the pressure to demand and create change within a sport historically dominated by a much different demographic of athletes. As a junior bowler, she earned a trophy for being the "Last Place Champ" - a title that's haunted her and been her motivation to become a true competitor within the sport of bowling. Now a four-time Olympic medalist, GG's trying to make a name for herself on the 2022 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour. When facing the many obstacles thrown in her way as one of the few young woman of color in a sport that, even now, makes it difficult for anyone outside the status quo to gain a foothold, that she must remain strong is not a question, it's a demand - one that means she will either bend or break.

  • Najah Owens
  • Nora Long
  • Gazmine Mason
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 52 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 7, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Najah Owens

Najah is a competitive bowler and filmmaker who attended North Carolina A&T (c/o '16), winning an intercollegiate national championship. Deeply connected to the bowling community and having experienced its challenges firsthand, she is determined to inspire change within the sport and share it with the world the way the bowling community sees it: as a sport requiring hard work and dedication, one with a diverse group of athletes who know it's more than just a game.

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Director Statement

As the director of "It's Not Just a Game: The Last Place Champ," I am proud to present a documentary that shines a powerful light on the struggles and triumphs of professional female bowlers, particularly those who are minorities. This film is the first of its kind, bringing needed awareness to a sport that is not, largely, seen as a "real" sport - one with dedicated athletes who give their all on and off the lanes.

Gazmine's story is one of determination and perseverance as she strives to make a name for herself in a sport that has long been dominated by white men. Through her eyes, we see the challenges that women and minorities face in the world of professional bowling, and we gain a deeper understanding of the inequalities that exist within the sport.

This film captures the devoted and dynamic spirit of the bowling community, one I'm proud to be a part of and that inspires my work as a documentary director. We hope this film sparks conversation about the need for greater equality, opportunity, and recognition within the sport for BIPOC and female athletes. By amplifying the voices of Gazmine and other female bowlers, we aim to inspire change and encourage others to join this vibrant, exciting community.