Longtime youth leader Lavonne Mitchell to receive Kerm Helmer Horizon Award


    USBC Youth


    Lavonne (Mitch) Mitchell (pictured) of Buford, Ga., who has been involved with youth bowling for more than 40 years, has been selected to receive the 2013 Kerm Helmer Horizon Award.

    The award, named in memory of the longtime Erie Community College coach, recognizes leaders in the bowling community who have displayed the courage, determination and ability to develop far-reaching programs of national scope that provide fun and exciting opportunities for collegiate and/or youth bowlers. Mitchell was named the award winner by the United States Bowling Congress Youth Committee.

    Mitchell served on the boards of USBC, American Bowling Congress (ABC) and Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA), and was the president of YABA for three years. He was involved with the formation of the Junior Gold program and has volunteered at all but two of the Junior Gold Championships.
    He was a member of the USBC Youth Committee for six years, including three as committee chair.

    "Having worked with Kerm Helmer for several years while on the ABC and YABA boards, I learned what a special person Kerm was," Mitchell said.

    "To be considered for the award that was named for him is a very special honor. I don't think I would have felt any better if I had been selected into the hall of fame. To me, this is the hall of fame for those who have served the youth."

    Mitchell was drawn into coaching when his daughter began to bowl. The head coach of the junior program asked Mitchell if he would like to help out, and a few weeks later, he took part in a certification program taught by Chuck Hall.

    "After two days of training, I became a certified coach and instructor," Mitchell said. "And I have been coaching since."

    Mitchell said coaching youth bowlers has provided him with many rewards. One of his first students, Richard Shockley, became an accomplished bowler and went on to become one of the first Gold-level coaches.

    "It also has been great seeing many young bowlers come up through our Junior Gold program, players such as Sean Rash, Andrew Cain, Diandra Asbaty and Rhino Page, just to name a few," Mitchell said.

    Mitchell is a former president and board member of the Greater Atlanta USBC, and is a member of the Greater Atlanta BA and Georgia BA halls of fame. He continues to conduct two scholarship leagues a week, as well as a regular Saturday morning youth program, at the Oasis Bowling Center in Buford.

    For being selected as the Kerm Helmer Horizon Award winner, Mitchell will receive an expenses-paid trip to the USBC Convention in Reno, Nev., where he will be presented with the award.