Nancy Walczyk well deserving of Helen Baker Award - The Buffalo News
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Nancy Walczyk well deserving of Helen Baker Award

Sometimes business majors end up teaching school and history majors run businesses.Nancy Walczyk took courses in office specialization at Bryant & Stratton, graduating in 1962. What she learned didn’t go to waste. She became a secretary or office manager in one form or another for more than 40 years in bowling as well as serving positions of leadership – with distinction.

Recently, the United States Bowling Congress named Walczyk the recipient of the Helen Baker Award for Outstanding Association Service. It culminated a career of service to the sport that she also competed in very well.

The Helen Baker is named for the fifth president of the Women’s International Bowling Congress (WIBC) and recognizes “an outstanding bowling leader who has made invaluable contributions to local and state associations as an innovator, creator and mentor of adult programs.”

The daughter of Mennonite dairy farmers, Walczyk has spent most of her life in the Town of Boston. Her father, Fred Yoder, managed and owned dairy farms, including an operation owned by the Flickinger family of supermarket fame.

“I first got introduced to bowling at Bryant & Statton when it was at Main and North,” she recalled. “There was a bowling alley upstairs in a building across the street, and that’s where we bowled intramurals.”

That led to bowling in leagues at Thruway and the old Leisure Land in Hamburg.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” she said with a laugh. It was just the first time she took on a task that wasn’t as routine at is looked at first.

Soon she became secretary of her league at Leisure Land. Before long she was secretary/treasurer of the Erie County Suburban Women’s Bowling Association for eight years. Then she started doing some office work at Leisure Land Lanes and ended up running the place as manager for eight years.

Being active in state women’s bowling soon took her down another path as manager and secretary/treasurer of the State Women’s Bowling Association.

“They had a rule you had to be a member of the board to be secretary,” she said. “I wasn’t on the board, but nobody wanted the job so it was suggested I look into it. Since they were going outside their rules they had to pay me.”

For the next 26 years, Walczyk ran the state women’s association out of an office in Orchard Park.

Walczyk retired three years ago when the state women’s association was merged with the men’s association. It was one of three historic bowling mergers Walczyk was a part of. Besides the state merger, she was a key figure in the merger of the Buffalo Women’s Bowling Association, the Suburban Women’s Association and the Buffalo Bowling Association in 2005 to form the Greater Buffalo USBC Association.

Also she was on the ad hoc committee that planned the merger of the Women’s International Bowling Congress and the American Bowling Congress into the USBC.

“It’s all worked out. We have a good strong state association, and the local association is good, too,” she said with some pride.

Walczyk was also active in obtaining the USBC Junior Gold Tournament and the first USBC Youth Open for Buffalo in 2007. Those tournaments are coming back this summer.

As a bowler herself, Walczyk won the Suburban Women’s Queens Tournament in 1988. She is in the Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Fame for meritorious service, elected in 1979 by the ECSWBA.

What accomplishment as a competitor is she most proud of?

“I bowled a 300 at Leisure Land in 1996. Phyllis Notaro was my partner,” she said.

Because she is a candidate for surgery to correct a heart valve problem, Walczyk won’t go to Reno, Nev., for the presentation of her award in April. It’s something she has to attend to before getting knee replacement surgery she needs. That won’t slow her down, though. Even in retirement she keeps busy following three granddaughters who play sports.

“I don’t miss the work, but I do miss the people I’ve met and worked with,” she said. “Bowling people are such good people.”

Pin chasers

• Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga and Brad Angelo of Lockport were cashers in the 11th Kuwait International Open, which wound up Friday. Ciminelli finished seventh for a $3,250 payday. Angelo was ninth for $2,900. John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda failed to cash after finishing second in a tournament in Bahrain the week before.

Denmark’s Thomas Larsen defeated England’s Dom Barrett, 208-205, to win the Kuwait title, his second on the PBA-World Tenpin Association Tour.

In a special women’s stepladder final for the top three women who bowled in the tournament, former PBA member Shannon O’Keefe, formerly of Rochester — one of nine women who have won PBA Regional titles — defeated PBA member Sandra Andersson of Sweden, 242-196.

• Manor Lanes will be the host facility for the Third Annual Tonawandas USBC Scratch Eliminator Classic on Sunday, April 27. Sanctioned bowlers from all of New York are eligible. Entry fee is $60. USBC members not sanctioned by the Tonawandas Association may participate by paying the local association fee ($7). Applications are available at all Tonawanda bowling centers or see

• Alex Cavagnaro of Copiague on Long Island defeated Tom Solimine Jr. of Danbury, Conn., 443-417 to win the New York State Masters last weekend in Newburgh.

• The state Queens Tournament will be April 12 at Hoe Bowl Holiday Lanes in Wappingers Falls. Competition will be in two divisions: Open and Classified (194 average and under).

The State Open will be at AMF Empire Lanes in Webster on the weekends of April 12-13, 26-27 and May 3-4, 16-18.


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