The United States Bowling Congress (USBC), the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) Board of Directors and the Reno City Council have approved revisions to the hosting agreement for USBC Championships tournaments.
Key changes include shifting the USBC Open and Women’s Championships back to their historical rotation of visiting Reno once every three years, adjusting the site fee and extending the completion date for renovations at the National Bowling Stadium (NBS).
“With this agreement, the RSCVA and the City of Reno are demonstrating a deep and unquestionable commitment to bowling and our USBC membership,” USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy (pictured right) said.
“Reno’s city and business leaders are true partners for USBC, and we thank everyone involved for supporting these revisions, which will strengthen the future of our sport and bowling’s relationship with Reno.”
As part of the amendment, the RSCVA will increase the site fee to USBC from $20 per bowler to $30 for the duration of the agreement except the 2015 and 2018 events.
The agreement also allows a more flexible timeline for the city in renovating the NBS. Stadium seating demolition now is shifted from 2016 to 2020 and exterior renovations from 2018 to 2022.
According to RSCVA President and CEO Christopher Baum, “The Reno tourism community cherishes our longstanding relationship with USBC, and the fact that the City of Reno, the RSCVA and our major resort partners were able to respond to our largest customer’s concerns with a new, win-win agreement through 2026 speaks volumes about our friendship and mutual respect for each other.”
The schedule change in the new agreement allows the Open and Women’s Championships to visit an eastern location more regularly and opens up the 2022 Open Championships and 2024 Women’s Championships for new host cities.
USBC and Reno leaders expect this will boost excitement and participation in Reno years. To accommodate the new rotation, the amendment changes the length of the USBC contract with Reno to run through 2026 instead of 2030 as previously agreed.
“Members in the eastern half of the country have asked our leadership for USBC Championships to visit near them more frequently,” Murphy said.
“The reason we approached our partners in Reno for this change is to meet the needs of the customer and build more participation in the tournament. Traveling east will be a big part of the future as we expose new bowlers to the championships. The goal is to keep them coming back to all of our host cities including Reno.”
“Bowling is incredibly important to Reno’s economic well-being, and we are excited to continue welcoming USBC participants to The Biggest Little City in the future,” Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said. “This amended agreement is a big win for our community, as we look ahead to continuing our long-term partnership with the USBC.”
In order to accommodate the schedule changes in the amendment, an adjustment also was required to previously announced Las Vegas host dates for the 2022 Women’s Championships and 2023 Open Championships.
Bowling coaches Peter Somoff of Tacoma, Washington, and Mike Dias of Lafayette, Colorado, have received United States Bowling Congress Gold certification and are ready to use their knowledge and experience to help others excel.
The two have worked hard in recent months to showcase their skills and expertise in the field and in front of a panel of experts, and each will receive the Fred Borden USBC Gold Coach Award for successfully completing USBC Coaching’s Gold certification program.
The process of becoming a USBC Gold coach, the highest level that can be achieved through the USBC Coaching Certification and Development Department, is similar to obtaining a doctorate in a field of study.
The addition of Somoff and Dias brings the list of active Gold coaches to 21. Candidates must be knowledgeable of the latest techniques and information and be able to apply them.
The final review process requires a coach to conduct a class, participate in an oral exam and give lessons to bowlers of various skill levels. They must include lesson plans and a ball-motion study. The review board consists of active USBC Gold coaches and USBC staff. The review board also engages Gold candidates in discussions on subjects related to the disciplines.
“The USBC Gold program is welcoming two great coaches, who have dedicated themselves and their careers to learning and growing the sport of bowling,” said USBC Director of Coaching Stephen Padilla (above right). “We’re pleased to have such passionate coaches thriving within the program.”
Somoff, the Director of Global Technical Communications for Storm Products, spends much of his time conducting seminars about bowling balls, drilling techniques and other pro-shop-related topics, but his role also allows him to spend a lot of face time with bowlers eager to improve on the lanes.
Over the years, he has served a variety of roles with Storm and now covers a territory that includes Africa, Australia, Europe and the Middle East, where he meets with pro shops and their customers directly to educate them about the company’s products.
The 58-year-old has owned or operated more than a dozen pro shops during his career in the bowling industry, and he is an International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association (IBPSIA) Master Instructor.
Competitively, Somoff earned two Professional Bowlers Association regional titles during a PBA career that spanned from 1982-2003.
“I’m honored for this distinctive and unique award, and I would like to thank my family at Storm, my friends in the industry and my loved ones for their support,” Somoff said.
“In earning this recognition, I feel a great responsibility to not only teach the lessons that have been learned through research and experience, but also be aware and forge ahead in learning, openly working with other coaches globally and teaching the latest information in this ever-changing sport. I am very grateful for this opportunity.”
Dias, 58, has been coaching for more than three decades and appeared on Bowlers Journal International’s Top 100 Coaches list four consecutive times from 2011-2014.
On the lanes, he is a regular at top events such as the USBC Open Championships, USBC Masters and USBC Senior Masters. He is a two-time winner on the PBA50 Tour to go along with a pair of PBA50 regional titles and two standard PBA regional victories.
By trade, Dias is a software engineer, but he gives nearly 10 lessons a week and mentors other local coaches. He plans to do more camps and clinics in Colorado and eventually transition into a full-time coaching career.
“I am very humbled and proud to be able to join this group of Gold coaches,” Dias said. “It was a tough process with a lot of self-examination, and I’m now a better coach than I was two years ago.
“But, being a Gold coach isn’t an end point, it’s just a validation along the way. The journey will never end for me, and I hope to continue to learn as much as I can, so I can continue to help people improve.”
USBC Coaching Certification and Development also offers Level I, Bronze and Silver-level coaching opportunities, some of which can be completed online. The first Gold certification was awarded to longtime Team USA coach Fred Borden in 2000, and the award for completing the program was renamed in his honor in 2013.
Click here to learn more about USBC Coaching Certification and Development programs.
To say David Sewesky (pictured) is comfortable at Plaza Lanes in Plymouth, Michigan, this season would be an understatement, as five of his last nine league games at the center have been 300s, including three consecutive perfect games for a 900 series.
The 27-year-old two-handed lefty from Dearborn, Michigan, struck on all 36 shots he threw during the Detroit Printcraft league Sunday.
He is the 27th bowler in history, and second in Michigan, to record a perfect series. Robby Portalatin of Jackson, Michigan, rolled the fourth certified 900 in December 2000.
Sewesky’s achievement is pending approval from the United States Bowling Congress and would be the 28th USBC-approved 900.
The 900 series also bested his 34-strike, 888 performance in the same league late last month. He rolled games of 300, 288 and 300 on Dec. 20, with only a 10 pin and 6-10 combination keeping him from perfection.
“After the 888, a lot of people were asking me when I was going to shoot 900,” said Sewesky, who topped the previous Metro Detroit USBC three-game record of 880. “It’s the ultimate goal when you’re a bowler, but you never really think it’s going to happen to you.”
While his Dec. 20 performance marked the first time Sewesky rolled two perfect games in the same set, this week’s effort included his first back-to-back 300s. He credits a supportive group of friends and family, along with a laid-back atmosphere within the 13-team league, in keeping him focused.
As he approached the final frames, the 40-lane center became quieter and quieter, while a taunting 9 pin almost ruined the celebration.
“Midway through the third game was when I really thought (900) was something I could do,” said Sewesky, who now owns 26 perfect games and 14 sets of 800 or better, with a previous high of 858.
“In the 10th frame, it got even quieter, and it all started sinking in before the last shot. My blood really started pumping, and the nerves set in. In the moment, I knew I threw a good shot, and I’m glad the 9 pin decided to go down.”
Sewesky, who consistently averages in the 230s, experienced a lot of attention after his 888 set, and only managed to be in the 620s during his next Printcraft league series, which included a 279 start. The attention definitely has been magnified so far this week, and while he knows people will want to talk about it, he’s hoping to remain humble and focused.
He’s also not sure how this season’s success will change his outlook on bowling in general, something he’s done recreationally, along with other sports, like hockey and softball, while maintaining a steady job as a supervisor at a distribution center.
“I’m just super excited right now, and very thankful for such an awesome support team,” Sewesky said. “The visibility this is getting is really remarkable. My friends and teammates have posted the videos, and my phone has been ringing all day. I didn’t realize the magnitude right when it happened, but after 24 hours, it’s definitely turning into something incredibly special.”
The first USBC-approved 900 occurred Feb. 2, 1997 when Jeremy Sonnenfeld rolled three consecutive perfect games in Lincoln, Neb. There never has been a Sport-certified 900 series.
Dale Gerhard of Mill Hall, Pennsylvania, became the 28th bowler, and second this week, to roll three 300 games for a 900 series in United States Bowling Congress-certified competition.
Gerhard rolled 36 consecutive strikes Tuesday night during the Inter-Community league at Harvest Moon Bowling Lanes in Linden, Pennsylvania, also becoming the oldest bowler to accomplish the feat at age 59.
Mark Wukoman of Greenfield, Wisconsin (2006) and Joe Scarborough of Charlotte, North Carolina (2013) both were 50 years old when they joined the elite club.
Gerhard’s achievement is pending approval from USBC and would be the 29th USBC-approved 900. David Sewesky of Dearborn, Michigan, rolled the 28th 900 in history on Sunday.
“I saw the pins go down, and I was happy, but it didn’t quite hit me right away,” said Gerhard, who entered the night averaging nearly 240 this season in the Inter-Community league.
“I didn’t know what to do or think. I couldn’t even sleep last night. You always want to do something like this, but you never think you can. You can throw the same ball 12 times and not strike every time, so there’s a little bit of luck involved, too.”
Gerhard has strung strikes on many occasions and found himself surprisingly calm while closing out Tuesday’s perfect series. Talking with his teammates and other friends in the 16-lane bowling center kept his mind off the score.
“I was sitting with my team and talking about other things, and goofing around with them really helped,” said Gerhard, who now owns 28 perfect games and 22 series of 800 or better.
“You can still feel the pressure, especially when the whole league is behind you, but I was pretty calm. I breathed in and breathed out and went through my routine on each shot.”
The first USBC-approved 900 occurred Feb. 2, 1997 when Jeremy Sonnenfeld rolled three consecutive perfect games in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Gertrude Finke (pictured right) of Maple Grove, Minnesota, a United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer, died Jan. 23. She was 94.
Finke dedicated her life to the sport of bowling, spending much of that time making it special and memorable for others. Her hard work earned her a spot in the Meritorious Service category of the USBC Hall of Fame in 1990.
Among her proudest accomplishments was five decades of organizing teams for the USBC Women’s Championships, and she is responsible for thousands of Minnesota bowlers getting the chance to participate on the biggest stage in women’s bowling. When the tournament visited Minneapolis in 1964, she was the local association chairperson.
She participated in the Women’s Championships 54 times, with her last appearance coming in 2007.
Finke served bowling at the local, state and national levels, beginning with the Minneapolis Women’s Bowling Association in 1949. She logged nearly 30 years in a variety of roles for the Minneapolis WBA and Minnesota WBA and contributed to multiple committees at the national level.
Also a member of the Minneapolis and Minnesota State Halls of Fame, Finke was focused on the future of the sport and was instrumental in organizing Minnesota’s first American Junior Bowling Congress state tournament and the Minnesota Young American Bowling Alliance.
A funeral Mass in celebration of Finke’s life will be Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Church of St. Bridget in Minneapolis. Visitation will be one hour prior to the Mass at the church. Memorials are preferred to the Church of St. Bridget or Bowlers to Veterans Link (BVL).
The United States Bowling Congress has reached an agreement with CBS Sports Network to televise 23 major championship bowling events in 2016 and 2017, highlighted by the U.S. Open, as well as 13 telecasts of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour.
The agreement features live telecasts of all four majors on the PWBA Tour and the U.S. Open, a major championship on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour.
The growing Junior Gold Championships presented by Storm, Roto Grip and Master will be televised for the second consecutive year, while the Intercollegiate Championships return to CBS Sports Network as well.
New to the television package in 2016 will be coverage of the USA Bowling Championships. USA Bowling is a youth-team program with regional tournaments culminating in a national championship event.
“With this package, bowling will be on national television every week from May to September,” United States Bowling Congress Executive Director Chad Murphy (pictured left) said. “We are thrilled to showcase the excitement of competitive bowling from youth, to college to the professionals and continue building a strong future for the sport.”
Nearly all events in the package including the PWBA Tour, U.S. Open and youth events are collaboratively funded with the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America (BPAA).
“With a consistent schedule and a national television audience, bowling will be top of mind in the United States throughout the year,” BPAA Executive Director Frank DeSocio (right) said. “We are excited to highlight our industry and great partners in a 23-week series that will provide tremendous benefit for all of bowling.”
The package features event coverage Tuesdays in primetime for 18 weeks starting May 10 with the Intercollegiate Championships.
The PWBA Tour kicks off Thursday, May 26, with a live telecast of the USBC Queens. Finals of the regular season PWBA events will taped on location at the major event sites to be televised on Tuesdays in primetime at later dates.
United States Bowling Congress Public Relations and Social Media Manager Lucas Wiseman has left USBC and will be moving into a new career outside the bowling industry later this month.
Wiseman, who worked at USBC for 13 year and was the main voice of BowlTV, covered his last event at the 2015 World Bowling Women’s Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, this week.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I leave USBC because I have been able to meet so many great people over the years,” Wiseman said. “Deep down, I have always been a bowling fan and will always be a bowling fan. It was a difficult decision to leave, but one I felt it was time to make to further my career.”
Wiseman began work for the American Bowling Congress in 2003, covering the 100th ABC Championships Tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee, and started covering Team USA and traveling internationally in 2005.
As a pioneer of BowlTV’s live streaming, Wiseman helped usher in a new era of bowling fans being able to watch the sport. He helped begin BowlTV’s live streaming efforts in 2009 at the World Women’s Championships in Las Vegas.
“We were able to bring live coverage of events that bowling fans previously never were able to see and that’s huge,” Wiseman said.
“Before BowlTV started broadcasting events like the World Championships or World Cup, fans had to actually be in the bowling center to see the action. We were able to bring that action to hundreds of thousands of people over the years.”
Wiseman covered 10 World Championships around the globe and provided live streaming for six of those events. He traveled to World Championships in Aalborg, Denmark; Busan, Korea; Monterrey, Mexico; Bangkok, Thailand; Las Vegas (twice); Munich, Germany; Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi, UAE (twice).
Wiseman has also covered the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup eight times traveling to Caracas, Venezuela; St. Petersburg, Russia; Melaka, Malaysia; Toulon, France; Wroclaw, Poland (twice); Krasnoyarsk, Russia and Las Vegas. He provided live coverage on BowlTV of five World Cups.
He covered the World Youth Championships three times, covered 10 different Pan American Bowling Federation events, two World Games and one Pan American Games.
Wiseman also traveled across the United States providing thousands of hours of live streaming coverage on BowlTV from events like the USBC Queens, USBC Senior Masters, USBC Team USA Trials, collegiate events and many others leading to millions of views on YouTube.
In addition to providing live streaming, Wiseman also helped bowling generate media attention surrounding the events he covered, including locally and nationally. He wrote press releases, produced video features, took photos and managed social media.
Wiseman began the social media accounts for USBC, helping make the USBC Facebook account the largest and most successful in the bowling industry with nearly 260,000 likes.
The Award will be presented on Tuesday, July 14, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., during National Youth Sports Week
The S.T.R.I.V.E (Sports Teach Respect, Initiative, Values and Excellence) Award recognizes organizations that embrace a “kids’ first’ approach based on implementation of recognized best practices and policies that protect children by promoting responsible health, wellness and safety within their organization while showcasing the positive benefits of youth sports.
“Along with the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, our partners in youth bowling, we are honored to receive this award that recognizes the outstanding work of youth volunteers across the country and the efforts of the International Bowling Campus Youth Development team,” USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy (right) said.
“Programs such as Junior Gold, USA Bowling and Bowler’s Ed represent the values of the STRIVE Award and we are thrilled to be selected from a group of such outstanding youth organizations.”
USBC was among five finalists for the award. Other finalists were the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association of Lake Forest, Illinois, the Greater Lafayette (Indiana) Regional Soccer Alliance, Pop Warner Little Scholars of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and the York (Pennsylvania) Jewish Community Center.
Online voting results combined with judges’ scores determined the award winner. The STRIVE Award for Organization of the Year will be presented on NCYS Youth Sports Day on Tuesday, July 14, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., during National Youth Sports Week.
Along with the award, USBC will receive a $5,000 donation that will go the Youth Education Services (YES) Fund, which has provided such programs as the High School Grant Assistance Program and USA Bowling.
Click here to learn more about youth bowling programs.
United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Bill Lillard Sr. (pictured left) of Houston added to his USBC Open Championships legacy as he became the tournament’s career pinfall leader during his first game of singles in front of a standing-room-only crowd of friends, family, fans and fellow competitors at the El Paso Convention Center on March 31.
He needed 106 pins in singles to secure the record and got there in style with a strike in the eighth frame.
His wife, Dorothy (right), was in the audience, as she has been for more than 60 years, and USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy, USBC national board member Karl Kielich and Open Championships Tournament Manager Duane Hagen were on-hand to present Lillard with a special trophy commemorating the achievement.
Lillard, an 87-year-old right-hander, entered the 2015 Open Championships, his 68th consecutive tournament, needing just 852 pins to match the 123,770 pins toppled by late USBC Hall of Famer Joe Norris of San Diego.
Norris took part in a record-tying 71 appearances, with his last coming at the 2000 event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a year before Lillard became a member of the elite 100,000-Pin Club, which currently has 15 members.
“I had been telling Joe since I had about 85,000 pins that I needed him to slow down, so I could catch him, only joking of course,” said Lillard, who averaged more than 200 throughout most of his tournament career.
“We saw his last three shots at his last tournament in Albuquerque, and they all were strikes, of course. He was a terrific bowler, and his record has lasted a long time. I’m very proud and excited to be able to reach that number, but records are made to be broken. I know there are some great bowlers who have a really good chance to catch me soon, too.”
An eight-time Open Championships winner, and the first of three bowlers in tournament history to claim four titles in the same year, Lillard now has settled atop the career pinfall list with a 124,087 total.
Slightly hampered by a slow recovery from a recent knee replacement, Lillard has been using an abbreviated approach and worked his way up to using a 12-pound ball in El Paso this week, but that did not stop him from completing all nine games.
This year on the championship lanes, he shot 422 in singles, 387 in doubles and 360 in team for a 1,169 all-events total.
For the next four months, El Paso will be home to the 2015 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and the event will touch many aspects of life in Sun City as tournament bowlers and staff immerse themselves in the local community.
Even the children of El Paso will get the chance to learn the ins and outs of the sport of bowling when they visit the El Paso Exploreum Children’s Museum, which will feature a detailed Science of Bowling exhibit during the 128-day run of the USBC Open Championships.
The El Paso Exploreum is a hands-on living laboratory that includes multiple interactive exhibits in four theme areas – construction, aviation, role-play and high-tech.
Even though it generally is geared toward children, there’s no doubt bowlers and bowling fans of all ages will be able to learn something about how scientific bowling really is, from what’s inside a bowling pin or ball to how lane oil is applied.
“We opened this exhibit during the USBC Open Championships to encourage El Pasoans to embrace bowling, not only as a one-time economic lift for the community, but as a lifetime sport that has significant roots in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math,” said El Paso Exploreum Children’s Museum co-founder Laurie Paternoster.
“It is our hope that through this exhibit, children can experience the fun of floating a bowling ball, understand how physics can help you deliver a perfect hook, realize how the oil on a bowling lane affects techniques and much more.”
With the support of USBC’s Gold industry partners – Columbia 300, Hammer, Kegel and Storm Products – along with a grant from the International Bowling Campus Youth department’s Bowler’s Ed In-School Bowling program, museum visitors will get to see and touch a variety of bowling balls, cores, pins, lane machine parts and more.
The exhibit also will include an official In-School Bowling carpet lane to introduce the next generation of USBC members to one of the best parts of the sport, knocking down the pins.
The El Paso Exploreum is located just across the street from the newly transformed El Paso Convention Center, where 62 lanes and the world’s largest mobile scoreboard are the centerpieces of the biggest stage in bowling.
“We are excited about the opportunity to introduce the children of El Paso to the sport that brought us here, and this project is a great example of USBC’s efforts focused on a future for the sport, with youth being a key piece,” said Greg Moore, USBC Senior Director of Tournament Programming.
“Bowling is as scientific as it is fun, and the exhibit will allow visitors to learn about physics and competition at the same time. We definitely appreciate the interest and support from the museum and its staff.”
Most of the Science of Bowling exhibit will be free to the public, but museum visitors can enjoy everything else the facility has to offer for just $8 for adults. Open Championships bowlers can save $5 by presenting the coupon available in this year’s coupon book, which will be given to team captains at check-in.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The 2015 Open Championships will run daily from March 7 until July 12 as more than 7,000 five-player teams make their way down the tournament’s famed Center Aisle to compete for more nearly $5 million in prize money.
The tournament venue also is open and free for the public to stop by and check out bowlers from all 50 states and several foreign countries. The facility includes seating for hundreds of bowling fans, daily food and drink specials and a variety of pro shop and souvenir options. Competition will begin daily at 9 a.m. and typically conclude around 12:30 a.m.
For more information on the Open Championships, click here.