Over the past five years, thanks to a change in United States Bowling Congress SMART scholarship fund management rules, advanced youth bowlers across the U.S. have been testing their skills at the Professional Bowlers Association Regional competition level, and earning scholarship money if they are successful.
The latest to join the ranks of PBA scholarship money winners is 14-year-old Kodie Lovejoy of Wakonda, S.D., who unofficially became the youngest player ever to cash in a PBA Midwest Region tournament, finishing eighth in the Midcontinent Communications Open presented by Ebonite at Empire Bowl in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Sunday, June 3.
Lovejoy, who posted a 4-6 match play record and knocked down 4,098 pins for 18 games, including match play bonus pins, was one of six USBC Youth bowlers who competed in Sioux Falls, but he was the only “casher.”
Under USBC’s SMART fund rules, youth bowlers are allowed to compete in PBA events if they designate in advance that any money won will go directly into their scholarship accounts. As the National Governing Body for the sport in the eyes of the United States Olympic Committee, scholarship funds managed by USBC can be used by bowlers who compete in NCAA-sanctioned or collegiate “club” level competition. In addition, SMART has implemented rules that comply with all known state high school programs to avoid jeopardizing a player’s eligibility.
Over the past three years, a growing number of youth bowlers have enjoyed PBA-level competition in preparation for Junior Gold and collegiate arenas. During the 2009 season, the PBA East Region had nine different youth bowlers earn scholarship awards. Youth bowlers including Matt Gasn of Laurel, Md., and Andrew Koff of Miami, Fla., have won PBA Regional events, although they didn’t receive credit for titles because they were not PBA members.
In 2010, Kamron Doyle of Brentwood, Tenn., made PBA history when he became the youngest player ever to “cash” in a PBA Regional at age 12, and he made history again in 2012 as the youngest player ever to cash in the U.S. Open, at age 14.
“I think this is a great program for the kids and PBA,” said John Weber, Director, Regional and Senior Tours. “I hope it continues to grow and that some future PBA stars look back at this program as having had a positive influence on their careers. Hopefully these same PBA stars will provide help to the next generation participating in regional events. We'll see.”
Whether bowling for scholarship money or not, youth bowlers under the age of 18 are required to submit signed parental consent forms before they can enter a PBA tournament, and the PBA requires that all players who enter PBA events maintain a minimum 200 average (or 190 Sport Bowling average).
BILLY WELU SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS DUE JUNE 15
Applications are due June 15 for the $1,000 PBA Billy Welu Scholarship, awarded annually to a male or female college student who competes in the sport of bowling and exhibits exemplary qualities as a student and citizen. Candidates must be amateur bowlers who are currently in college (preceding the application deadline) and maintain at least a 2.5/4.0 GPA or equivalent.
To access the Welu Scholarship application form, use this link: http://pba.com/Corporate/Scholarships/
REGIONAL ROUNDUP: BROWN, TROUP WIN IN SOUTH REGION VIPER CHAMPIONSHIP
In the PBA South Region, Zack Brown of Raleigh, N.C., defeated Jason Sterner of McDonough, Ga., 259-197, to win his first PBA Regional title in the Rocky Mount, N.C., Viper Championship at The Bowling Center Sunday. Brown earned $2,500, but the PBA World Series of Bowling berth in the South Region’s first of four “animal pattern” championship events went to Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, N.C., who lost to Brown in the semifinal round, 269-235. Troup was the highest finisher among those who paid the optional “animal pattern” entry fee.
In the PBA Midwest Region, 2010 USBC Masters champion Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa, defeated Matthew Tomsu of Omaha, Neb., 264-242, to win the Midcontinent Communications Open presented by Ebonite at Empire Bowl Sunday in Sioux Falls, S.D. The title was the first of the year and the seventh career PBA Regional title for Hess, who also earned $2,500.
In the PBA West Region, Ron Mohr of Eagle River, Alaska, repeated a 2010 feat on Friday, June 1, when he won back-to-back West Region senior events in Sun City West and Flagstaff, Ariz., over a span of four days. Mohr started his sweep at Johnson Lanes in Sun City West where he posted an 8-4 match play record and knocked down a 20-game total of 5,127 pins, including match play bonus pins, to top Ron Winger of Las Vegas by 67 pins to win the two-day Lona King Saguaro Senior Open on Wednesday, May 27. Mohr earned $1,600 along with his fourth career PBA senior regional title.
Four days later, Mohr posted a 10-1-1 match play record and a 5,029 pinfall total to win the Budweiser/Golden Eagle Senior Open at Starlite Lanes in Flagstaff by 73 pins over Kenny Parks of Hammond, Ind. Mohr collected another $1,500 and his fifth senior regional title.
On the June 8-10 PBA Regional schedule is the joint Southwest/Midwest Region Wichita (Kan.) Open at Thunderbird Lanes, and the PBA East Region Dominick DiCicco Memorial Open at Brunswick Zone Turnersville (N.J.).
The June 15-17 weekend includes the PBA South Region Reality Check Classic at Brunswick Harbor Lanes in Melbourne, Fla.; the PBA East Region Howell Lanes Open presented by Brunswick in Howell, N.J., and a pair of “animal pattern” championship events: the PBA Central Region J.D. Producing Inc./Triway Lanes Cheetah Open presented by Hammer in Wooster, Ohio, and the PBA West/Northwest Wine Country Scorpion Open presented by Columbia 300 at Double Decker Lanes in Rohnert Park, Calif.
In all PBA Regional “animal pattern” championships, players can pay an optional “animal pattern” entry fee for the right to win a full paid entry into the 2012 PBA World Series of Bowling which will be held Nov. 2-11. Also, in all seven PBA Regions, the player who accumulates the highest number of competition points in the region’s four animal pattern events (Cheetah, Scorpion, Chameleon and Viper) will earn a World Series entry.
For complete PBA Regional schedule and entry information, visit pba.com and click on “Regional Tours” under the Schedules tab.
● PBA charter member Joe Schmidt of Colonie, N.Y., died on June 2, 10 days before his 100th birthday. Schmidt, who was affectionately called the “godfather of bowling” in the Albany area, was a legendary figure in cultivation of youth bowling. He was 47 when the PBA held its first tournament at Schades Academy in his hometown.
"Of all the things I've accomplished, I guess No. 1 would have to be leading the World Invitational Match-Game Championships in Chicago after one round," Schmidt said in a 1988 interview. "I didn't win anything, but a 1,309 six-game total put me out front."
● Brunswick Bowling today has hired PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III as a product specialist in its Consumer Products division. Bohn, a member of Brunswick’s pro staff for 24 years, will represent Brunswick at industry events and visit pro shops and bowling centers around the world, offering product support and assistance.
The Jackson, N.J., left-hander joined the PBA in 1984 and was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 2000. He has earned more than $2.7 million in PBA competition, third on the all-time list, and owns 32 PBA Tour titles, fifth all-time. Bohn also has been recognized by his peers four times as the recipient of the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award (1990-1993).
● Seven-time PBA Tour titlist Robert Smith has announced he is now co-owner and head pro with Dan Nadeau’s Pro Shop inside Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas. Smith retired from full-time competition on the PBA Tour after the 2009-10 season due to a series of lingering injuries, and spent the next two years managing a pro shop in Hong Kong.
● Live video streaming of the USBC Senior Masters from South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas will be available on USBC’s bowl.com website, Monday, June 11 through Friday, June 15. The championship match is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT) on Friday.