New Yorker celebrates 50th USBC Women's Championships


    United States

    Northcross Lanes and AMF Carolina Lanes in Charlotte, NC (April 12 - July 2, 2007)

    20067USBCWomensChampionshipLogo.jpg Vi Bonomo's bowling career began in 1942 in a small six-lane center in upstate New York where she had to set her own pins.

    Sixty-five years later, the technology of bowling is a bit more advanced, but the 81-year-old Bonomo of Utica, N.Y., is still rolling strikes and converting spares, still smiling, laughing and high-fiving fellow bowlers.

    Bonomo's bowling career reached a grand milestone Sunday as she competed in her 50th United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships at AMF Carolina Lanes in Matthews, N.C.

    "This sport has given me the opportunity to meet so many great people from all around the country," she said. "That's why I keep bowling."

    After high school, Bonomo and colleagues at the Utica National Insurance Company teamed up to compete in league after work. She hasn't stopped bowling since.

    "It was just for fun," she said. "And, I loved every minute of it."

    In 1954, the Women's Championships rolled into Syracuse, N.Y., not far from Utica. Bonomo's teammates, who had participated in previous Women's Championships, persuaded her to compete with them on the national stage.

    "They took me under their wing because I had never competed in a prestigious national event like that," Bonomo said. "It was so much fun to see all the great women bowlers. It was so exciting!"

    Bonomo has been traveling around the country competing in national events ever since. Some of her most memorable moments have come after bowling in Women's Championships.

    "After the Women's Championships in Portland, Ore., in 1965 I went with a group of bowlers from New York on a 10-day trip to Hawaii," Bonomo recalled. "Three years later after competing in San Antonio, we all vacationed in Mexico."

    Bonomo became a leader of women's bowling in New York in 1968. She was appointed a director of the New York State Women's Bowling Association. Bonomo eventually became vice-president of the state association, a position she held before retiring last year.

    "I didn't get into bowling leadership because I excelled in the sport," she said. "I carried a pretty good average, but it wasn't good enough to be a professional. I got involved because bowling is great exercise and good, clean fun. People sometimes forget about that part - bowling is supposed to be fun."

    Bonomo once got the opportunity to bowl with famed trick-shot bowler and bowling ambassador Andy Varipapa in her hometown. She asked the legendary bowler for some advice on how to improve her game.

    "I remember him saying to me, 'The next time I recommend you don't bowl against me.'"

    New York duo moves into third place in Division 1 Doubles

    Rebecca Eynon of Newark Valley, N.Y., fired a 707 series Sunday to propel her and teammate Tracey Kellicutt of Lisle, N.Y., into third place in Division 1 Doubles action at the 2007 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships.

    The two women combined to shoot 1,188, edging Nanette Belk of Eagle River, Alaska and Carla Neffendorf of Wasilla, Alaska who rolled 1,183 Saturday. Melanee Mangold of Stevensville, Mich., and Jan Schaub of Eau Claire, Mich., hold the Division 1 Doubles lead with 1,195.

    Eynon, competing in her 11th Women's Championships, led the pair with games of 223, 246 and 238. Kellicut added a 481 series with games of 157, 148 and 176.

    Eynon, who was recently voted into the Binghamton-Johnson City-Endicott USBC WBA Hall of Fame in New York, said she checked the leader board on before competition and knew they had to shoot close to 1,200.

    "I hope we can hang on to second place," Eynon said. "It would really top off the year for me. I've been bowling very well this year."

    The Women's Championships, which is the largest participatory sporting event in the world for women, will continue through July 2 at two suburban Charlotte bowling centers. Northcross Lanes in Huntersville, N.C., will host team squads each day while doubles and singles competition will take place at AMF Carolina Lanes in Matthews, N.C.