Danielle McEwan Wins Nationwide PWBA Rochester Open

It all came down to the 10th frame at the 2017 Nationwide PWBA Rochester Open. In the end, Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, defeated Shannon Pluhowsky 226-224 to win her third PWBA title. The win earned McEwan $10,000 and a spot in the Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship in Richmond, Virginia. We caught up with Danielle between her travels to ask her some questions about her most recent win.

It means a lot that I was not only able to compete but able to walk away with a title from an event in my own state.

CBS Sports aired the Nationwide PWBA Rochester Open where you earned your third PWBA title this week? What did it mean to you to take home that title for a tournament that was hosted in your home state?

It was awesome to have a PWBA stop in New York, my home state. Even though Rochester isn't very close to where I live, I grew up bowling high school and other state tournaments all over the state. Therefore, I found myself constantly bumping into people that started conversations with phrases such as "I haven't seen you since high school" at this tournament.

What were your favorite Storm Bowling Balls in your bag this summer?

All of them!! The patterns we bowled on this summer were so drastically different from weekend to weekend, having multiple options to choose from allowed me to be consistent each week. Some of my favorites that stand out are the Sure Lock, Phaze II and Code Red.

What have you been up to during the off-weeks of the PWBA Tour on the road to the PWBA Tour Championships?

They may have been off weeks for the PWBA tour, but they haven't been off weeks for me by any means. I just got home from traveling to Sweden for the World Bowling Tour event. I now will have 3 days to get back on this time zone, get some good quality practice days on the lanes and in the gym and then it's off to Richmond!

What do you plan to do on the off-season?

Over the last few years, I've competed on the PWBA tour, the PBA tour, the World Bowling Tour, as well as represent Team USA in multiple international competitions. Therefore, there is really no off season for me. As soon as the PWBA Tour Championship wraps up, I will be training with Team USA and will then go right into another World Bowling Tour event in Thailand. The rest of the year will then be spent competing against the guys!

Do you have advice for bowlers who might be thinking about going out to test their skills on the PBA Tour or PWBA tour?

The advice I always give people who ask how to get to this point is to plan out your stepping stone path. For me, my path started with high school bowling, which led to college bowling, which led to Jr. Team USA then Team USA, and then out to competing on tour. For others that might mean competing in local tournaments, to regional events, to national events.

If your goal is to compete on the highest level on either tour - set a game plan on how to get there and work hard every day for it.

What’s one thing about yourself that fans might not know about you?

I love flying and I love airports. It's just recently become a new obsession- 100% related to my travel schedule over the last few years. In addition to constantly booking flights, I find myself doing research and reading tons of articles and blogs on different planes, airports and everything that has to do with travel. If you ever have any questions about seats on different aircrafts, fare classes, upgrades, the best places to eat in any given airport or the best way to argue with airline representatives, I can definitely help you out!


Boelter and Kelly Earn Title at USBC Women's Championships

Charly Boelter and Samantha Kelly have bowled with each other twice and have taken home 1st and 2nd place at the USBC Women’s Championship in the Diamond Doubles. In 2017, Charly rolled games of 258, 245 and 203 for a 706 series combined with Samantha’s games of 257, 217 and 224 for a 698 set to take over the lead. Their lead held until the end of the tournament. Both Charly and Samantha threw Storm and Roto Grip bowling balls to earn this title. We had a chance to catch up with the Diamond winners and ask them some questions about the event.

When did you start bowling?

Charly: I have been bowling for 31 years.

Samantha: I started bowling when I was 3 years old at Hoffman Lanes in Hoffman Estate, IL. My father was the GM of the bowling alley, and my mother was a bartender/ junior coordinator youth program.

How long have you been bowling together at the USBC Women’s Championships?

Charly: 2 years…last year by accident, really.  I’d rather call it a blessing.

Did you practice together prior to going out to compete?

Samantha: We did not practice together prior, just bowled some local tournament together.

Did you know the score you had to shoot prior to bowling?  

Charly: Yes, we looked at the score.  We both looked at it and said it was attainable, and let’s give it a shot.

Tell us about that day:

Charly: We had high aspirations on winning this tournament based on last year’s performance. The day started with our pre-tournament routines, which are somewhat similar…which makes it even easier to compete with her.  We took our time to get ready, prepared, focused, and revisit our plan of attack. We have an amazing relationship for two individuals that don’t know each other very well, and we just understand each other on the lanes, and are able to communicate with each other freely and constructively; like we’ve known each other, and our games for that matter, for years.  We came up with a plan and stuck to it the next afternoon.

Samantha: We both struggled in team, and stayed up late into the morning just talking about a game plan for the next day. That morning of the doubles and singles we got to the alley early, and both sanded a ball to 500 grit to create some hook right for us. It ended up working out in our favor. Yes we did know the score going into the tournament, but we also knew we were capable of shooting a good number just needed the pins to fall our way when we executed good shots.

What bowling ball(s) did you use during the event? 

Charly: Haywire then switched to the IQ tour (glad I drilled up some new stuff…lol)

Samantha: Phaze II and Code Red

What did you ladies do after you finished bowling to celebrate?

Samantha: Actually, we got on the road right after the tournament due to work obligations. We are planning to celebrate with our sponsor, Motion Plus Lanes in the upcoming weeks. It is an exciting moment we want to share with friends and family.

You set your scores pretty late in the tournament? What was the anticipation like waiting for the event to conclude?

Charly: I’m glad it was so late’ it was the longest week ever.  I kept my fingers crossed, hoping and praying it would hold

Do you have a favorite Storm bowling ball of all time? 

Charly: IQ tour

Samantha: Virtual Gravity

What advice would you give someone who’s going to bowl the Women’s Championships next year?

Samantha: Talk to the team, and have a game plan going into the tournament. Winning as a team everyone has to play as a team. I believe everyone needs to be on the same page as the breakpoint just may need to get to that breakpoint in many different angles.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Charly: Sam is the most amazing teammate anyone could ask for.  I am completely blessed to have fallen in her path. I would rather share the excitement (of a win) than have it myself.


 


Liz Johnson Wins the 2017 Women's U.S. Open

USBC Hall of Famer, Liz Johnson, started as the #5 seed at the 2017 Women's U.S. Open. To make history, she'd need to climb the ladder and defeat all of her opponents, for a second year in a row. That's exactly what she did! In the final match, she defeated Daria Pajak 188-176 to claim a record 10th major title. The two-time reigning PWBA Player of the Year, also won the 2017 PWBA Storm Sacramento Open and Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship this season.

We caught up with Liz after her victory as she was traveling home to Chicago.

Over the weekend, you were able to win your fourth consecutive and sixth total U.S. Open title. What did it mean to you to put that green jacket on again?

I am still in amazement of what happened Sunday Aug 6, 2017.  To be a part of history of winning my 4th consecutive Women's U.S. Open and my 6th overall is just an unbelievable experience and something I will continue to cherish forever.

 

Photo: PWBA Tour

As the 2016 reigning Player of the Year, what were your goals heading into this season?

After winning the POY the last 2 seasons, I was just hoping to just make some shows and hopefully come out with a win.  I never imagined I would have the 2017 I have had.

I am very humbled and honored to be able to still compete at this level.

There’s about a month before the Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship, what will you be working on to prepare for the final tournament of the season?

In the few weeks we are off I will probably take a break from throwing a ball for about a week.  I am going to Montreal for a trade show and heading to Storm Products in Utah for the first time so I am extremely excited about that.

What were your favorite Storm Bowling Balls in your bag this summer?

I have used my Sure Lock(s), Code Black(s), and Code Red(s) a lot but my go-to ball throughout the 2017 PWBA season has been my Storm IQ Tour.  It's been the most versatile ball, no matter what pattern we have been on.

What do you plan to do on the off season?

I recently sold my house in Cheektowaga, NY and bought a house in Palatine, IL with my fiancé Kasia so we will be getting ready for all the fun stuff that goes with that.  I also got invited to bowl the US Open in November in Syracuse, NY so I will be preparing for that.

What’s one thing about yourself that fans might not know about you?

I played softball from age 8 to 18.  I was a pretty good pitcher in high school and played on varsity from 8th grade until I graduated.

Do you have advice for bowlers who might be thinking about going out to test their skills on the PBA Tour or PWBA tour?

I would just say to try and bowl anything and everything you can.   Try and go to different centers .  If you have a "home" house have them put patterns out.  Spares are always a big factor in bowling tournaments so never press the reset button.

The best way to learn about the mental game or "being strong mentally" is going out and doing it! To me that's the best way to learn and get stronger.

 


Striking Against Breast Cancer Tournament

Striking Against Breast Cancer 2017

The PBA-PWBA Xtra Frame Luci Bonneau Memorial Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles Tournament, sponsored by Storm kicks off this weekend. In its 18th year the tournament will host the largest field in its history. More than 320 bowlers will be competing in the event.

The story of the tournament travels back several years. Donna Conners and Luci Bonneau met bowling together in Houston and became travel partners on the LPBT. In 1999,  Bonneau was battling breast cancer and Conners stayed by her side. They discussed creating a bowling tournament to raise money for breast cancer research when her treatment was complete. Bonneau passed away later that year and Conners knew she had to create the event.

“This event has been around for 18 years and it is still growing,” Conners said. "It’s about people coming together for a dreadful disease. When you think about it, breast cancer doesn’t ask any questions. It doesn’t care if you a mother, if you a father, or who you are. Breast cancer hits everybody.”

Conners starts preparing for the next event the day after the current year wraps up. The tournament fills up quickly. Entry blanks are posted live on the website on January 1 and she starts receiving entries on January 3. In 2016, the event raised $84,000 to help fund breast cancer research and Conners is excited to expand the field and continue growing the event this year. Although the players are competing for a title and a $16,000 top prize they all know that this event means more than just that.

“There’s nobody in that building that hasn’t come in contact with somebody that has cancer.” Conners said. “I am very grateful that the PBA & PWBA have come together and given me a title for the players because they deserve it. The players would come here anyway and I know that, but I needed that title to help these players and their careers. I’m very grateful to Tom Clark and Chad Murphy and all the people involved for allowing me to award a title. I’m also grateful that people can watch the players compete live on Xtra Frame.”

Players travel from across the nation and around the world to compete in the event. Conners has a team of volunteers that give their time and help the event run smoothly. She says each year the volunteers keep growing.

This year the team has put together, Pennies for Pins, a new initiative to get fans at home more involved at the event. Fans can choose their favorite bowler and either pledge a flat donation or a “Penny-A-Pin” based on how many pins the bowlers knock down. Individuals can go to this website to pledge a donation: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSctRolxMIKSDTbtgZU24ARCiSu_5OvF3I_AxE_JTHWohVhHdA/viewform?c=0&w=1

“I am very blessed.” Conners said. “I don’t even know how to put into words how much I appreciate everyone that has been such a part of it. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I am the child and I have an entire village helping me pull this off.”

Storm Bowling has sponsored the event since 2002 and each year the whole company tries to participate in the event in every way.

“Storm has been a proud supporter of the Luci for 18 years,” Leanne Hulsenberg, Marketing Coordinator at Storm Products said. “Not only do we sponsor the event, all of our pro staff and Storm employees participate in the tournament. Donna Conners and her staff of volunteers do an incredible job all year to prepare for this weekend and we appreciate all of their efforts to make this special tournament happen each year.”

Knowing that Storm Bowling is 1000% behind her event means a lot to Conners.

“Having Storm Bowling Products behind me is like having wings that just lift me up and help me fly.” Conners said. “I feel safe. I know that they’ve got my back and they’re always there to help me. Without these sponsors that like Storm Bowling Products, High 5 Gear, and all the many, many sponsors who donate time and money to come bowl the pro-am, this event would not be possible.”

Conners and all of her volunteers try to make sure that the players who participate in the event know how grateful she is for their presence and support. They have stayed with her and helped the event grow year after year.

“I do everything that I possibly can to make the players feel like they are rock stars.” Conners said. “They are rock stars. They deserve everything I can possibly give them. If I can find a way to give them more then I’m going to find a way. I want them to remember that when they leave here that they are worth everything that I can possible give them. They deserve to be recognized as the greatest players in the world.”

The Luci hosts a pro-am where amateur bowlers bowl with PBA and PWBA stars and help raise money for the cause throughout the event. They host a silent auction as well as several raffles and giveaways for all of the participants. This year, Conners has added a giant Plinko board that participants will be able to use to win prizes. It’s an important piece of the weekend. Conners does everything in her power to make sure that there is “positive karma” throughout the entire event and good thoughts for all the spectators and participants.

She also tries to make the tournament environment as fair as possible right down to the lane condition. Kegel comes in to provide the tournament with a fair but challenging lane condition. Every once in a while a player will get caught up in the frustration of the tournament. It doesn’t take long for them to regain perspective.

“I had one player tell me one time that this (lane) condition is awful,” Conners said. “I said, you’re right now turn around. Do you see this lady standing behind you? She has breast cancer right now. When you are on these lanes you are fighting to win. That’s what she’s doing too. She is fighting for her life.”

To follow the tournament on Xtra Frame, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link. For those who would like to support the event but can’t attend visit http://www.strikingagainstbreastcancer.org/ make a tax deductible donation online.

“Hopefully every player and participant leaves with positive and good thoughts.” Conners said. “I hope they know that I’ve done everything possible to help them. Each year I add something in to make it better. So we’ll see what happens.”