In the Pocket: Lenahan has made up for late start to her career

Joanne Lenahan, right, teamed with boyfriend Alan Arpin to win a gold medal in mixed doubles recently at the NYS Senior Games in Cortland. Lenahan also won gold medals in women’s singles and doubles. (Photo provided)
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Joanne Lenahan, right, teamed with boyfriend Alan Arpin to win a gold medal in mixed doubles recently at the NYS Senior Games in Cortland. Lenahan also won gold medals in women’s singles and doubles. (Photo provided)

Joanne Lenahan got a late start in the sport of bowling, but she has certainly made up for lost time, molding herself into a scratch league bowler and a solid tournament competitor, as well.

A week ago, she headed to Cort-Lanes in Cortland to compete in the NYS Senior Games with a group that included her boyfriend Alan Arpin, good friend Kim Wilson and 80-year-old Jim Burton, the executive director for the Amateur League Bowlers Association of New York tour.

Lenahan won a gold medal in women’s singles, another with Arpin in mixed doubles and one more in women’s doubles with Wilson, who also picked up a gold medal in singles. Arpin also secured a bronze medal in men’s singles while combining with Burton for a gold medal in men’s doubles. The ageless Burton won singles gold with a big 753 triple. All four qualified for the Senior National Tournament next year in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, SBA Hall of Famer Flo Dufek picked up a gold medal in women’s doubles with Karen Krauss and a silver in mixed doubles with Gerald Rider. Dufek also won several medals at a previous NYS Senior Games. Krauss also took a gold in mixed doubles and a gold in singles.

Lenahan, a 68-year-old Clifton Park resident, grew up in Colonie and graduated from Colonie High School in 1971, but she didn’t take up the sport until she was in her mid-30s. 

“Once in a while, my father took me to Sunset Recreation for a few games when I was a kid, but I never got into it,” she explained. “But later in life, I was looking for something to do, and my sister-in-law asked me to bowl. Once I started to bowl seriously, I never stopped.”

Lenahan was basically self-taught in the sport until she began working at Del Lanes. 

“I did the books for them,” she noted. “But they wanted me to coach the juniors, so they sent me to coaching school. I picked up a little about the game there, and I also learned some more from the previous owners, George Hoffman and Marv Sontz. I always wanted to get better. When they sent me to learn how to coach, I finally learned there is a proper way to bowl.”

The retired business officer at the NYS Office of Mental Health (1977-2010) moved away from New York, living in Mississippi for several years as well as in Florida in 2019. She eventually moved back to the Capital Region, but she kept on bowling no matter what state she was in.

While in Mississippi, she began competing in the State Senior Games with an eye toward qualifying for the nationals.

 “Everybody there did it,” she rsaid. “I bowled in the state seniors there for a few years. You got no money, only medals. But I liked it. When they mentioned that you can earn a spot in the nationals, I loved the idea. In 2019, we got to go to New Mexico for the nationals, and it was a really great event. They do the whole Olympic thing, with a flame and a parade of states. We even got jackets and pants that year to represent Mississippi. You met athletes from all over. It was very exciting. If I remember correctly, I won a bronze, a silver and a ribbon for finishing fifth.”

Last year, because of the pandemic the year before, everyone who participated in the nationals in New Mexico automatically qualified for the nationals again. Lenahan earned two golds and a fifth-place finish. 

“They were nail-biters,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. There’s a lot fiercer competition at the nationals than at the states.”

Despite her fine performances in the New York and national senior events, Lenahan said her favorite achievement was rolling her only perfect game. 

“Getting my 300 while in Mississippi was phenomenal. I was just so happy that I finally did it,” she said. “My inspiration was an older lady who just got hers. I figured if she can do it, so can I.” 

Lenahan also had a 299 game at Del Lanes.

Lenahan used to bowl five times a week when she lived in Mississippi, but arthritis in her fingers has slowed her down to twice a week in league play, plus occasional tournaments.

“My highest triple is something like a 740,” she said. “I really like the competitive aspect of bowling. I’m not a cut-throat bowler, but I love to compete. It’s a lot of fun. Alan and I both enjoy the game. I believe bowling is a great family sport. I got my son into it at the age of 4, and now he’s a great bowler. I like supporting the sport whenever I can to keep it alive. That’s probably another reason why I bowl so many tournaments,” she said.

KPA HOSTING ANOTHER EVENT

After hosting both the PWBA Albany Open in 2021 and this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center has announced that it will host a PBA East Regional Sept. 16-18.

The tournament will be a regular event, as well as a Regional Pro Invitational qualifier. It will be open to all PBA members, as well as to non-members. The entry fee is $245 for members and $310 for non-members.

“Kingpin’s Alley will be continuing to bring the top tournaments to the Capital Region and South Glens Falls, in particular, with a PBA regional event in September,” said proprietor Doug Bohannon. “We just wrapped up hosting the PWBA U.S. Women’s Open, which was a huge success. We are continuing to work on having the type of events that not only excite bowlers in our area, but excites the community and brings attention to bowling.”

“There are so many talented bowlers in the area, and we want to give them a stage to showcase those talents and make a little money,” Bohannon said.

This is great news for the area bowling community. I really enjoyed covering the recent U.S. Women’s Open, featuring the greatest female bowlers in the world. I’m sure having a PBA regional with many of the top male bowlers competing will bring back memories of when the PBA Tour and PBA50 Tour (then known as the PBA Senior Tour) came to the Capital Region at The Bowlers Club and Clifton Park Bowl, respectively.

UBA EXPANDS LOCALLY

The Underground Bowling Association made two big announcements this week. The first was the addition of another local team, called Da Royalty. That gives the Capital Region two UBA franchises after the Area 51-8 team kicked off at Sportsman’s Bowl last year.

The other announcement is that with the Da Royalty franchise (no home center announced yet) joining the UBA, the Capital Region is guaranteed a couple of home matches, which will cut down the travel required for divisional competition.

Local organizers, like Gabe Criscuolo Jr., anticipate that there will be more local centers sponsoring other franchises soon, and that by the next season, there could be an entire division of UBA franchises hosted locally.

USBC NOTEBOOK

Suzie Morine of Castleton (748) and her doubles partner, Robin Orlikowski of Grand Rapids, Michigan (700) are leading the Diamond Doubles of the USBC Women’s Championship at Stardust Bowl in Addison, Illinois.

Rotterdam’s Liz Kuhlkin (676) is 72nd, and Helen Waite of Glens Falls (657) is 138th in the Diamond Singles division.

Good JuJu of Saugerties, including Laura Rotter of Schenectady and Waite, are 69th in the Diamond Team division with a 2,358, while Bowl-to-Win from Mechanicville, including Morine, Kuhlkin and Jessica Aiezza, is 78th with a 2,337 total.

In the USBC Men’s Championship at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas, Dwayne Dragt of Mechanicville is 97th (738) and Steve Black of Hudson Falls is 103rd (737) in the singles competition.

In the men’s team competition, Hometown Pro Shop of Mechanicville (Steve Gabriel, Steve Smith, Dragt, Brian Mariano and Doug Kent of the PBA Tour) is 42nd (3,272), and Towne Bowling Academy of Rotterdam (3,255) is 54th.

STRIKES & SPARES

After finishing 10th in the PBA Senior U.S. Open, Brian LeClair of Albany, the proprietor of the Revolutions Pro Shops, is 14th in the Player of the Year rankings with 7,875 points. The former PBA50 Player of the Year has earned $10,025 this season and is averaging 221.57. He’s cashed in seven events. Don Harrington of Ballston Lake is 45th with $1,100 in earnings and a 208.03 average. Rich Strath of Schenectady is 116th with $1,100 in earnings and a 201.04 average.

Town & Country Lanes has been hosting a spring/summer sweeper series every Thursday night, and many of the Capital Region’s top bowlers have been competing. Matt Fazzone has already picked up three victories. Joe DeVellis has a pair of wins, and Steve Wagoner, Art Van Buren, R.J. Martinez and Art Hoffman also have triumphed.

The Team USA program is accepting resumes for para bowlers interested in representing the red, white and blue at the 2022 International Bowling Federation Para Bowling World Cup in November. The event will be heading to Australia Nov. 16-23 at an exact location to be announced. Four men and four women will be accepted through the selection deadline of July 31. For more information, visit BOWL.com.Team USA.

The Professional Bowlers Association announced a new PBA League Bowler Certification program featuring digital awards, real-time statistics and new exclusive tournaments. For more information, visit pba.com.

The USBC has announced an agreement with the Reno Tahoe Board of Directors and the City of Reno, Nevada to continue hosting the USBC Championships at the National Bowling Stadium through 2032.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected]

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