In the Pocket: Women’s City league stands test of time

The Women’s City league is 91 years old, and despite some tough times in recent years, longtime secr

The Women’s City league is 91 years old, and despite some tough times in recent years, longtime secretary Millie Kielmann continues to keep one of the Capital Region’s oldest circuits alive.

“It’s been tough,” said Kielmann, who has been bowling for more than 50 years, and has been the league’s secretary for more than three decades. “Ever since the Women’s Doubles league started at Towne on the same [Wednesday] night, I’ve had to work like heck to get six teams. We bowled with five teams and a vacancy for a while. It’s rough, but as long as I’m around, I’m going to try to keep this league going.”

Currently, the Women’s City league has six two-person teams, but at its height, the league was one of the top women’s leagues in the area.

“The league was around even before the WIBC came into existence, and we had some honor scores that weren’t sanctioned originally,” Kielmann said. “But when the WIBC started, the local association honored all of our scores.

“When we first started, we had 16 five-person teams. After about 30 years or so, we went down to four. Eventually, we dropped down to three-person teams. We bowled at Boulevard Bowl for many years, and when we moved to Sportsman’s about 20 years ago, we still had three-person teams. We only dropped down into a doubles league when [the other] league started at Towne a few years ago.”

Kielmann said the Women’s City league used to have most of the best female bowlers in the region.

“We had some of the best bowlers around,” she recalled. “Clara Walendziak bowled in our league, and was the first woman to have a 200 average in our association. For the longest time, there were only three women in the Schenectady-Scotia Women’s Bowling Assoc­iation who had 300 games. I was the third woman in our association to get one.”

For many years, the Women’s City league included all of the top scratch female bowlers in the SSWBA, including Marty Christian and Lisa Hughes. Now, there are only two bowlers with averages of 200 or better. Lisa Rathbun-Read paces the league with a 212.28 average, followed by Karen Drake with a 200.06. Tanya Colleton is third with an average of 194.2.

“Lisa Rathbun-Read still doesn’t have a 300 game, but she is getting close,” Kielmann said. “She’s very smooth, with an easy style. It’s fun to watch her bowl. She does nothing fancy, but she knows how to bowl. I wish I could throw the ball like she does.”

In her prime, Kielmman averaged 185 at a time when a 190 average for women was exceptional.

“Most of the top bowlers from the 1950s and 1960s are gone,” Kielmann said. “I’m still around, though, and I’m working like the devil to keep this league around. I would love to increase our numbers, but the problem is that

nobody has any openings for the early shift. If we could bowl at 6 or 6:15 p.m., we could probably get quite a few more bowlers. As the women get older, they don’t want to drive too far at night. I’m a little different, because I’ll drive

anywhere to bowl, but a lot of the women don’t like starting the league at 8 p.m. and then having to drive home alone after the league is over.”

Kielmann is not only the heart and soul of the Women’s City league. She is also one of the cornerstones of the SSWBA.

“I was a director for many years. This is my first year as president,” I’ve always had some good contacts with all of the bowlers. You can serve three consec­utive three-year terms, and then you’ve got to get out,” she said with a laugh. “I guess me and my friends are the glue that holds the associations and the leagues together.”

Top women at Boulevard

Many of the top women bowlers in the Capital Region will be competing in the 40th annual Women’s Doubles Invitational Saturday at 3 p.m. at Boulevard Bowl.

The field of 56 will be paired in doubles teams by high average to low average. Sponsors include Sager Enterprises, Riverfront Insuring Agency and Mildred Elley. The winning tandem will take home $600.

The teams will bowl four games.

Included in the banner field will be Jodi Musto, Jessica Decres­cente, Debbie Capullo, Sharon Sager, Sue Carl, Denise Johnson, Bridget Auclaire, Jessica Byerwalter, Tina Blake, Laura Brizzell, Val Smith, Jen Sleeter, Deb Raymond, Mary Prest, Chris Onderdonk, Patti O’Connor, Jessica DeVellis, Debbie Fawcett, Julie Drexel, Phai Fitch, Meg Fountain, Robin Fredenburgh, Dee Struffolino and Kara Struffolino.

If you want to watch some of the best female bowlers knock down plenty of pins, stop by and give your support.

Strikes and spares

* The next scratch singles qual­ifiers for the Huck Finn/Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York “Capital Region Bowling Show” will be Saturday at 3 p.m. at Hiway Recreation in Wynantskill and Sunday at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. at Town ‘n Country Lanes in Guilderland. Entry fee is $50, and top prize is $1,000. Call Jeff Segel for reser­vations at 439-7268. The next doubles event will be the following weekends with a qual­ifier at Olympic Lanes in Menands March 6 at 3 p.m., and another qualifier March 27, also at Olympic, at 10 a.m., followed by the rolloffs.

* The Freddy K’s Benefit No Tap Tournament will be held March 12-14 at Rolling Greens Lanes. Money received will help defray the medical expenses of longtime pro shop operator Freddy Krahula, who has endured numerous medical setbacks recently. The popular Krahula, who has bowled in many leagues for more than 40 years, ran the RG pro shop for 10 years. Entry fee is $60 per five-person team. Call Rolling Greens at 381-4848 for more information.

* Al DeNegris fired a perfect game and 1,038 series in the Boulevard Classic on Tuesday. He was incorrectly identified in Thursday’s paper.

* Dave White recorded his first 800 triple, a 279-814, in the Rt. 5 Merchants league this week.

* Phai Fitch is on quite a tear recently at Hometown Lanes. Fitch bowled her first career 300 game during a 731 triple in the Mechanicville Women’s City league, and then shot her second career 300 and first-ever 800 series with an 827 in the Sunday Social Mixed league.

* Brandon Wolf, Mike Nolan and Bill Nolan shot a handicap total of 2,523 to win a $550 scholarship in the Generations Tournament at Towne Bowling Academy. The team of Michael Mushaw, David Barno and Marc Brown was second (2,401, $325 scholarship), followed by Victoria Primett, Hillary Seaburg and Debra Primett (2,388, $241) in third. Top bowlers in each division were Jason Duryea (279-771 junior boys), Rebecca Pratt (258-737, junior girls), Corey Hanson (266-752 adult men), Jodi Musto (300-779 adult women), Frank Manell (268-782, senior men), Pat Boguzski (201-566 senior women).

* Sportsman’s Bowl will conduct a 10-week PBA Experience League, beginning May 13 at 7 p.m. Entry fee is $10 per week for the three-person team league that will bowl on numerous PBA oil patterns. Call Sportsman’s at 355-4330 for more information.

* The Menagerie league will hold the USBC Bowl for the Cure/Susan G. Komen tournament March 26 at Boulevard Bowl. Bowling will be from 6-9 p.m., with bowlers bowling for dollars in pledges. There will be raffles and several prize drawings. Call Marie Taber at 765-9177 for more information.

* Following are the dates for New York State USBC WBA tournaments this season: 75th Women’s Championship at Transit Lanes in Williamsville, April 8-May 15; 40th annual Queens Tournament at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga, April 16; 30th annual Women’s Senior Singles Championship at Crystal Lanes in Corning, Aug. 20-21 and Aug. 27-28.

* The annual Schenectady-Scotia Women’s Bowling Association City Championship will be held at Boulevard Bowl April 26-30 and May 4-7. Entry forms were sent to each league secretary. If you did not receive your envelope, contact Anne Torak at 356-3281. Payment must be in by March 31.

* The Electric City 600 Tourn­ament will take place March 14 at 1 p.m. at Sportsmans Bowl. Entry forms are due to Marianne Hogle by Sunday. If anyone needs a form, call 393-8907.

* Sportsman’s Bowl will host the 77th annual Schenectady USBC Bowling Association’s Championship March 13-May 2. Top prize for the four-person handicap team event will be $1,200, based on 120 entries. Top prize for the scratch team event will be $600, based on 120 entries. Handicap will be based on 90 percent of 240. Entry fee for the team event will be $80. The entry fee for the doubles will be $40 per team, and the singles event entry fee will be $20. All-events entry fee is $5. There will be a special Scratch Challenge April 26 at 3:30 p.m., with an extra $5 charged for each person. All the extra money will go to the winning team, which will also receive a championship trophy and free admission to the SBA Banquet. Entry blanks are available at all SBA centers.

* The 18th annual Charlie Bechard Memorial Tournament will be held at Green Island Lanes March 18 (9:30 a.m.), and March 20 (1 p.m. and 3 p.m.) There are limited openings for each squad. Entry fee is $20, and handicap is based on 100 percent of 220. The event is open to all sanctioned bowlers age 50 and older. The age divisions are Class A (70 and over), Class B (60-69) and Class C (50-59). Call Green Island Lanes at 273-2322 for more information.

* The Burnt Hills Tavern Tournament will be held March 21 at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $125 per five-person team. Handicap is 100 percent of 220. One in five teams will cash. A hot and cold buffet is included. Call Burnt Hills at 399-8421 for more information.

* Towne Bowling Academy is forming a new Sport league for the 2010-2011 season. The league will bowl on four challenging oil patterns through the 28-week season, and will be limited to eight three-person teams. Entry fee will be $23 per week, and there will be a $1,000 top prize per half. Call 355-3939 for more information.

* The Schenectady league is looking for more bowlers for the 2010-2011 season. The league bowls Monday nights at 6:20 p.m. at Rolling Greens. The four-person teams bowl on a point basis and, compete for 28 weeks. Interested bowlers or teams should contact Cliff Ruth at 847-8089 or at Rolling Greens at 381-4848.

* The annual Blizzard Bowl at Boulevard Bowl will begin March 13 with a 9:45 p.m. squad that includes a buffet after bowling. The event will roll on Sunday mornings, with a continental breakfast included, at 11:45 a.m. on March 21, March 28, April 11 and April 18 before returning to a 9:45 p.m. Saturday squad April 24. More on this popular tournament in a few weeks.

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