When the Greater Buffalo USBC Association honors bowlers Saturday night for the ability they displayed on the lanes, also sharing the spotlight will be four individuals who gave more than their talent to the sport locally.
They are the volunteers who work out front behind the scenes to keep the sport running in the region.
One of the best things the GBUSBCA and the organizations that preceded it do is show true appreciation for those who give their time, effort and passion to the sport. The list of those honored for Meritorious Service is nearly as long as one listing those honored for ability.
The honorees for Meritorious Serciee on Saturday night at the Hall of Fame dinner at Samuel's Grande Manor are Ken Duke, Beth O'Brien, Dewey Dobson and Linda Bardol.
When Kerm Helmer died in 2002, Duke was one of those who stepped in to keep Eric Community College in the forefront of the sport on the collegiate front. A youth director on the GBUSBC Board of Directors, there's hardly a collegiate or youth bowling event that Duke does not have a hand in.
Duke bowled on ECC's 1977 national championship team and coached the team to another national title in 1978. Helmer asked Duke to coach the Kats' women's team in 1996 and he directed that talented aggregation to another title, rolling up record scores. Janette Piesczynski, one of this year's honorees for outstanding ability, was a member of that team.
Duke served as administrative coach of both the ECC men's and women's teams for more than 10 years. Also, he has directed NJCAA national tournaments.
This isn't Duke's first Hall of Fame honor. He is a member of the ECC Athletic Hall of Fame, the NJCAA Bowling Coaches Hall of Fame and is an ECC Distinguished Alumnus. He's also been active as a coach and volunteer on the youth level. Since 2004, he has been the Clarence High boys’ varsity team coach. In 2000 he was presented with the Special Olympics New York Volunteer of the Year award.
Since knee replacement surgery, Duke has resumed his own bowling. He has a lifetime-high average of 219 (4 times) along with a high game of 300 and high series of 833.
Beth O'Brien is also one of the four youth directors on the USBC Board and her service to youth bowling is just as impressive as Duke's. She's been a coach, league officer, and a member of the boards of various associations since the early 1970s, when she started out as a CYO coach.
O'Brien created the GBUSBCA Singles and Team Youth tournaments. She also heads the Scholarship and Lane Certification committees. In 2009, the GBUSBCA Youth Committee selected her as the Service to Youth award winner. She has worked in the association office since 1995.
Like Duke, she's been an active participant in the sport. She won the C Division New York State Singles title and a Doubles title with her partner, Sally Delphard, and a Buffalo Women’s Bowling Association City Tournament title in the 1970s. She has a high average of 182, high game of 267 and high series of 665.
Dewey Dobson, now 92, served in various capacities for the old Buffalo Women's Bowling Association.
Linda Bardol is being honored for meritorious service to youth bowling in the regional.
Bardol, who now lives in Las Vegas, started as youth director at Kenmore Lanes before moving on to Thruway Lanes. She was a sanctioned bowler for 50 years and a former president of the Buffalo Bowling Council.
Dobson served the WIBC and the American Bowling Congress for more than 65 years. She retired from the sport at age 91 for health reason.
Beside Pat Brick, John Meczynski and Mike Zarcone among the men and Janette Piesczynski and Michelle Sterner among women, the Hall of Fame will recognize Linda Coburn McDonald and Ted Czajka for Outstanding Ability in the Veterans Category.
McDonald will join her mother, Doris, her father, Frank, and her sister Kathy Coburn Carroll, in the Hall.
Among McDonald's many achievements were singles and all-events titles in the state women's tournament, and team championship. She and her mother bowled on the 1972 Women's International Bowling Congress championship team along with Millie Martorella, Dotty Fothergill and Patty Costello. Talk about your Dream Team: That certainly was one.
She was the 1973 Buffalo Women's Bowling Association Queens Tournament champion. She won a Professional Women's Bowling Association title in 1975, making her and Doris the first mother/daughter champions in PWBA history. Kathy also has been honored for sportsmanship and was named to the Kenmore East High Athletics Hall of Fame. For 30 years she coached the Sweet Home High boys varsity team. One of her bowlers was Zarcone.
Ted Czajka was a standout in the era when Classic League team bowling made headline news on the Buffalo sports pages in the 1960s and 70s. He averaged over 200 regularly at a time when that was a major achievement. He bowled with the famed Bison Products team that won Buffalo Bowling Association, New York State and ABC Team All-Events titles. He bowled a scratch 800 series in leading his team to the team championship in the 1996 Lilac City Tournament championship in Rochester. He once bowled a 300 game in the BPA Traveling All-Stars League.
Czajka retired from competition in 2004 with multiple 300 games, an 816 series and a high average of 216 on his resume.