The award recognizes leaders in the sport of bowling who have displayed courage, determination and the ability to develop far-reaching programs that provide fun and exciting opportunities for collegiate and/or youth bowlers.
The award is named in honor of Kerm Helmer, the longtime bowling coach at Erie Community College who also served as a board member, vice president, and president of the Young American Bowling Alliance.
“I’m honored to be recognized and flattered someone would even take the time to notice what I do,” Yamauchi said.
“Honestly, it’s a true labor of love to be able to provide fun and competitive events for generations of youth bowlers here in Southern California. I’m thankful to USBC for recognizing myself, but more importantly for recognizing the Junior Amateur Tour and what the organization means to the youth in my area.”
Yamauchi comes from a family of league and avid bowlers. He started bowling at an early age and said having great youth directors helped him hone his skills to the point he could take part in the Junior Amateur Tour Farm Club.
He put together a summer youth scratch league – “basically, so we all could have another excuse to get together” – and after joining the adult ranks, he continued to help at JAT events, one of the first youth scratch tours in the nation that provides premier events for youth bowlers in Southern California.
He would become one of two assistant directors for the JAT under the guidance of Mary Smith, mother of pro bowler Robert Smith. A few years later, Mary Smith had to take a leave and asked Yamauchi if he could “watch things for her” and that led to him taking the role as executive director when she decided not to return.
He now has been involved with JAT for 31 years.
“The reason I have such a passion for the JAT is because of what JAT meant to myself and so many of my friends,” Yamauchi said.
“If you ask most JAT veterans, they will tell you that it was the absolute best time of their bowling careers and drove their love for the game of bowling. I want to make sure this generation of kids is able to have the experiences, the memories and the stories of their JAT days. My best friends to this day are bowlers from all over Southern California that I may never have met if it wasn’t for being part of my weekend family in JAT.”
As this year’s recipient of the Kerm Helmer Horizon Award, Yamauchi will receive an expenses-paid trip to the USBC Convention, set for April 24-27 at The Orleans in Las Vegas, where he will receive his award.