This recent passing at age 93 of George Killian, who was basketball coach and director of athletics at Erie Community College from 1954-1969, helped Jim Kruzicki of Buffalo recall the humble beginnings of men's and women's bowling teams at Erie Community College.
Kerm Helmer is regarded as the father of bowling at the college, but Kruzicki remembers being called into Killian's office in the 1950s and asked to start a bowling program.
"Killian knew me because I was a pitcher on the baseball team," Kruzicki said. "He had read in the paper that I had bowled some games like 188 and 191 in the paper. If you did that in those years you were top drawer. It's not like it is now.
"ECC was called ECTI (Erie County Technical Institute) then and it was located in the old Pierce Arrow building across the street from Voelker's Lanes on Elmwood Avenue."
Kruzicki did manage to round up some bowlers, both male and female, to bowl at Voelker's after class. It was more of a intramural league than an intercollegiate competition against other junior colleges.
"It was kind of a warm-up for me," said Kruzicki, who by then had become a more accomplished bowler in local leagues and competed on a few teams alongside his father, Henry.
Kruzicki grew up in Kaisertown and went to Bishop Ryan High. He was a pin-sticker and learned to bowl at the nearby Bowl-Inn, Town Edge Lanes and Southside Classic Lanes. He even remembers a six-lane house across the street from Ryan High.
It was the Clinton Bowling Academy and it was owned by Chet Musialowski, the father of Rich Musialowski, a Greater Buffalo USBC Hall of Famer.
"Richie Musialowski bowled a 600 when he was an 8-year-old," Kruzicki remembered.
Kruzicki is a walking collection of anecdotes about bowling in Buffalo. That's because of his father, who was elected to the GBUSBCA Hall in 1974 in the Veterans Category.
Henry Krulicki won the City Singles championship in 1929 and bowled his first 300 game in 1930.
His father's accomplishments were overlooked for a time. Not forever, though, thanks to his son.
Jim worked to promote his fathers induction to the hall, which required a lot of research into the matter. It helped that he was able to unearth a letter of congratulations from George A. Obenauer, who was director of the Buffalo Bowling Association at the time.
Next, Kruzicki worked with the American Bowling Congress to get his father's 300 game recognized by that organization. After documentation by Jim and with the help of ABC officials in Wisconsin, Henry Kruzicki's accomplishment was officially recognized and his 300 game ring was awarded.
"It arrived in the mail on my father's birthday," Jim Kruzicki remembers. "The timing was perfect. It brought tears to my eyes."
Jim Kruzicki will be 80 soon and no longer bowls.
"I pitched baseball for 10 years and between that and bowling it why my right arm is shot now," he says with a laugh.
Retired from the West Valley Nuclear Facility, Jim and his wife stay active visiting garage sales and dealing in collectibles. His acquisitions over the years include sports memorabilia, including several items from his boyhood idol, Ted Williams.
"It have a house full of stuff, and it's time to clear some if out because we're getting older."
The memories of his father, George Killian and the years at ECTI will stay, though.
x-Liz Johnson, now bowling out of Palatine, Il.l, was added to the field for the 2018 DHC PBA Japan Invitational Jan. 26-28 at Tokyo Port Bowl. Also added to the field were 2016 PBA Rookie of the Year Francois Lavoie, PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III and incoming PBA Hall of Famer Chris Barnes.
If you care to watch Liz's historic victory in the PGA Chameleon Classic of the PBA World Series of Bowling last month in Reno, Nev., mark down ESPN, 1 p.m. Sunday. It was Johnson's first victory in a PBA Tour event.
X-Ryan Ciminelli if Cheektowaga helped the USA win the USA versus The World team match that was shown on ESPN last Sunday. Ciminelli along with Bill O'Neill, Tom Smallwood and Matt McNiel defeated a team of Jason Belmonte (Australia), Jesper Svensson (Sweden), Tom Barrett (England), Thomas Larsen (Denmark) and Rafiq Ismail (Malaysia). The Americans won the first Baker format match, 226-213, taking control after an open following a washout ball by Barrett in the fifth frame. Ciminelli struck in both his frames as the USA dominated the second game, 279-191.
X-Medaille's women's bowling team finished in fifth place after victories over Felician College and LIU-Post and a loss to Mount Aloysius in the Wildcat Division II-III tournament in New Castle, Del.
X-With Britney Grey, who was Prep Talk Girls Bowler of the Year in 2017 while competing for Cattaraugus-Little Valley, and Haley Carroll (Williamsville South) in the lineup, Saint Francis (Pa.) went 4-2 to tie for first place in the Northeast Conference I competition hosted by Duquesne University at Sims Lanes in Beaver Falls, Pa., earlier this month. Carroll averaged 194 and Grey 172.40 in traditional matches for the RedFlash.