The Buffalo News polled sports staffers as to the top 10 male and female athletes from Western New York. Here’s No. 10 among women:
Name: Cindy Coburn-Carroll
Hometown: Town of Tonawanda
High school: Kenmore East
College: Erie CC and the University at Buffalo.
Career overview: It’s not easy being the offspring of a legend in any sport and succeeding on your own, but Cindy pulled it off easily. In fact, Cindy may have surpassed the bowling feats of her mother, Doris Coburn, a Hall-of-Famer and national champion in her own right. In 1977, Cindy and Doris paired to bowl a record 1,444 doubles series in the Women’s International Bowling Congress. At the age of 19, Cindy led the nation with a 211 average. She moved on to the Ladies Professional Bowling Tour and won 15 titles, including the 1992 WIBC Queens Tournament, one of the majors in women’s bowling. She and her mother traveled together for four years on the women’s pro tour before mom retired. Her father, Frank, went along, too, Mom was an inspiration and a role model but dad was the coach and teacher.
“They were always there to support me, and I could learn from them,” Coburn-Carroll said. “I never felt pressured into bowling at all or into bowling professionally. They knew it was a tough way to make a living.”
Her bowling style: “I hooked it a little bit but not like the crankers do. My dad taught me the basics but let me go from there. He didn’t push any kind of style on me. He stressed good time and fundamentals, that type of thing. He was good at teaching fundamentals, things that you can build on and grow from.”
The highlight: “I would say winning the Queens in 1992. That was a major tournament and it’s hard to win. I happened to have a lot of tough matches in that event to get through. It’s probably the one I remember most.”
Off the road: Cindy went on the women’s pro tour after she graduated from UB in 1979 and bowled on it until the tour closed in 2003. “I was part-time the last few years and there were only a handful of events. The tour had dropped off quite a bit.” With a young daughter at home, “I didn’t want to be gone at the time.”
Coburn-Carroll still made her presence felt in major national, state and local events. To this day, she remains one of the more accomplished women bowlers in Western New York. She is a five-time Buffalo Women’s Bowling Association or Greater Buffalo USBC Association bowler of the year. Her accomplishments have been recognized by election to several halls of fame, including the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and those of every bowling organization in which she has participated.
Update: Cindy works as a real estate appraiser. She and her husband, Jerry Carroll, live in Williamsville, and have raised their own bowling prodigy. Daughter Haley Carroll is a freshman at Saint Francis College in Loretto, Pa., where the former Section VI individual champion and sectional all-star bowls. Cindy is a once-a-week bowler these days in the Alzena Wright Classic Doubles at Classic Lanes, but she still is one of the area’s elite women bowlers. She bowled a career-best 847 series in 2013 and has won several titles in one of the Buffalo area’s most competitive leagues. That 847 gave her bragging rights in the Carroll family. She still averages well into the 200s, including a 208 in the Alzena Wright Classic Doubles last season.