Tonight is a special night in Buffalo bowling. One reason is it comes around only once every two years. Most important, it’s when the Greater Buffalo USBC Association inducts its Hall of Fame Class.
The seven inductees who will be honored at the Hall of Fame dinner at Samuel’s Grande Manor in Williamsville are: Butch Benhatzel, Kevin Iwaniak, Dave Guindon and Kay Jeziorski for outstanding ability, and Jackie Jensen, Frank Coburn and Dave Miller for meritorious service.
The Coburn family often is referred to as Buffalo’s First Family of Bowling. That could be true, but would not be fair to so many other families that are part of the fabric of the Western New York bowling community.
Tonight’s event will be a family affair, indeed.
Frank Coburn joins his wife, Doris, and daughter Cindy Coburn-Carroll in the local Hall.
Two years ago Debbie Janora was inducted. Tonight, her brother Kevin Iwaniak will be honored.
Kay Jeziorski follows her husband, Art, and daughter, Sue, into the Hall.
Jackie is the first Jensen in the Hall, but the family is well known in local bowling. A whole team of Jensens bowl – including Jackie’s husband, Edmond Sr., and her sons Edmond Jr., David, Dan and Tim in the Tuesday 3-Man League at Strikers Lanes in West Seneca. Her daughter, Ruth Brock, has been active in all areas of bowling for many years.
Jackie Jensen has been a member of the local bowling associations for more than 40 years and served as the secretary for many years of the Roc-Mar Tuesday Doubles League. She participated in more than 40 New York State and 15 national championship tournaments.
Most noteworthy was her work as a coach and supporter of youth bowling. In 1989, she was named Coach of the Year by the Erie County Young American Bowling Alliance. She worked with youth bowlers at Orchard Park Lanes for more than 30 years and helped at Kenmore Lanes, and assisted as a scorekeeper for more than 10 PBA tour events in Buffalo.
As a bowler herself, Jensen had a high average of 185, a high game of 265, a high series of 711 and was second in the 1986 Buffalo Kickoff Tournament.
Since 1973, Frank and Doris Coburn have held clinics at Airport Lanes and since 2006 at Manor Lanes II with students ranging in age from 5 to 90 years.
During the early 1970s, he held bowling clinics throughout the country. He helped to coach the 1977 University of Buffalo women’s bowling team and was a long-time coach of the Sweet Home boys and girls teams.
In 2006, he was named to the “Top 100 Coaches of the Century” by Bowler’s Journal International. Some of his students include many successful local and national bowlers.
As a competitor, Kay Jeziorski won the 1977 Buffalo Women’s Bowling Association doubles title with Grace Staerker and was second in BWBA all-events and was among the top ten in the state women’s championship tournament.
She had a high average of 196 and high series of 737. Her high game of 280 came in the Roc-Mar Doubles league when she partnered with Mike Fronczak to set a then-world record for a single game of 569, a record that stood for nine years.
Kay also instructed with Sam Borrasca at Peace Bridge Lanes and was a league coordinator at Suburban Lanes for 20 years and a member of the Conbow instruction staff giving clinics with Jerry Back.
The accomplishments of Benhatzel, Iwaniak and Guindon have been chronicled here in the past since their election to the Hall of Fame was announced last spring.
Their accomplishments are impressive. Here are just some highlights:
• Benhatzel was runner-up in the 1975 Obenauer Masters and was on two championship teams in 1979 and 1980 and won the doubles title with Ray Zygaj in the City Tournament in 1980. He has operated the No Round Holes pro shop at Wimbledon Lanes for the last 30 years.
• Iwaniak first gained attention as the Buffalo Junior Singles champion in 1975 and then a standout high school and collegiate (ECC) career. He bowled on two Buffalo Bowling Association Championship Tournament teams and paired with Joe Wagner to win the 2010 City doubles title.
In his 35-year bowling career, Iwaniak has had several 800 series, including a high series of 857 and many 300 games as well as a 298 in the City Tournament. He also bowled on the winning team at the ABC Tournament in 1990. He was the runner-up in the 1992 Obenauer Masters.
• Guindon is noted for his success in Megabucks Tournaments in Las Vegas, Nev., including a $100,000 first-place prize in one, but it’s his accomplishments locally that earned him a place in the GBUSBC Hall of Fame.
He is a two-time (1986 and 2002) Obenauer champion and runner-up in 1996. He holds two City all-events, a doubles and two team titles. He was the Buffalo Bowling Association Bowler of the Year in 1997. He also has won doubles and a team title in the State Tournament as well as a New York State Masters title.
Guindon has 83 300 games, and 35 800 series, with 859 being his best.
Miller is being honored for many years of devoted service as a league organizer, promoter, publicist, reporter, supporter and league and officer and volunteer locally.
• Happiest bowler in town last week has to be Ken Duke, the long time activist in youth bowling and administrator of the men’s and women’s teams at Erie Community College.
Duke, who underwent knee replacement surgery last year, is back better than ever.
“Best night of my bowling career. 277, 278, 278 - 833. Finally!,” was Duke’s message on Facebook after his performance in the Berghold Electric League at Clarence Bowling Academy.
• Pro bowler Ryan Ciminelli, who lives in Cheektowaga, had a harrowing experience upon his return from the Japan Open. He arrived at Buffalo Niagara International Airport a week ago Tuesday during the snow storm. Because no one was able to get to the airport to bring him home he decided to walk the three miles to his home. He barely made it through the five-foot accumulation on his street. Then, he had to evacuate his home because snow on the roof was threatening a cave-in. Eventually, the roof was cleared but then it was discovered his furnace was broken so there was no heat for about 16 hours.