The annual awards are determined by the International Bowling Campus Youth Committee based on applications.
The USBC Youth Volunteer of the Year recognizes an adult volunteer who has displayed outstanding efforts to foster, organize and promote certified youth bowling programs at the local, state and/or national level.
Mike Bonzek said his involvement in youth bowling started about 20 years ago in San Juan, Puerto Rico, when he wanted to get his daughters, who were ages 8 and 10 at the time, involved in some athletic activity. When he relocated to Georgia more than a decade ago, he looked for a Junior Gold program and eventually teamed with two other fathers to start the Georgia Youth Bowlers Tour (GYBT).
When the first tournament was held, only six bowlers attended, and the group realized it would need to focus its efforts. Under Bonzek’s leadership, the GYBT launched an aggressive marketing campaign, enlisted the assistance of local, state and national USBC associations, worked closely with bowling centers to receive fair pricing, had constant communication with athletes and parents through emails, Facebook and the GYBT website, and made certain it had a transparent organizational structure.
The program has continued to grow, and the GYBT team, which now has 10-12 volunteers, helped 140 athletes earn spots in the 2017 Junior Gold Championships. The GYBT expects to reach close to 150 spots earned for the 2018 event.
“Obviously, I am proud to be recognized and accept this award on behalf of all the volunteers that make the Georgia Youth Bowlers Tour successful,” Bonzek said. “Our collective goals center on providing youth athletes positive life experiences as they move forward into becoming responsible adults. This award affirms our volunteer group is accomplishing that goal. On a personal note, I hope that by receiving this award, another volunteer strives to be the best they can be. Our youth are the winners of these efforts.”
Chris Floyd, too, became involved in youth bowling because of his family. A bowler since age 11, Floyd wanted to share his passion for the sport with his daughters and what started as coaching his children and their friends continued to evolve.
An active duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard, Floyd began his volunteer coaching with the youth program in Severna Park, Maryland, more than 10 years ago. He moved to Slidell in 2014, where he now is the youth director at Bowling USA. He was elected to the Northshore USBC board and as chair of the youth committee, has revitalized the youth city tournament. He also serves as president of the Southeast Louisiana Travel League, coordinating 100 youth bowlers who compete in eight different centers.
Floyd, who earned his USBC Silver coaching certification in 2016, started a bowling program at Salmen High School and has helped two other high schools launch bowling programs. One of his high school bowlers recently signed to bowl collegiately starting in fall 2018.
“I never in my wildest dreams imagined being selected for this award,” Floyd said. “I only want to share my passion for bowling with as many youths as I can, so they may love this lifelong sport like I do and participate for many years to come. My goal is to grow the number of youth bowlers, so this sport will continue for many years to come, and this award will help bring awareness to youth in Louisiana and wherever the U.S. Coast Guard might transfer me to next. I am truly humbled to receive this award.”
The David Dahms Coach of the Year Award recognizes a USBC-certified coach who has been actively involved in a USBC Youth program and has demonstrated outstanding commitment to coaching, sportsmanship and knowledge of USBC Youth rules. It is named in honor of Dahms, who was an instrumental leader in the creation of what is now known as the USBC Junior Gold program.
Bonzek and Floyd each will receive an expenses-paid trip to the USBC Convention, set for April 23-26 in Reno, Nevada, where they will be presented with their awards. BOWL.com will livestream the awards presentations.
Click here to learn more about awards for adult youth leaders and scholarship opportunities for youth bowlers.
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