The three newest members of the Schenectady USBA Bowling Association Hall of Fame were honored just as much for their service to the game as for their skill in playing it.
All three — Chet Ciembroniewicz, Marty Capullo Jr. and Mike Smith — carry impressive resumés on the lanes, but their gaudy statistics were bolstered by their many contributions as administrators, bowling proprietors or longtime league secretaries.
The SBA held its annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Merit Banquet Tuesday night at the Water’s Edge Lighthouse. Special guests included Schalmont High School graduate Liz Kuhlkin, a two-time All-American at Nebraska; junior bowling standouts Zach Porter and Julia Favata; and pro bowler Ryan Shafer.
Ciembroniewicz, 49, a former SBA president and current SBA board member, was inducted for his meritorious service. He’s been a member of the SBA board of directors since 1990, and was both the youngest person ever named to the board and its youngest president. Ciembroniewicz, a two-time SBA director of the year, has been chairman of all six SBA committees and along with Frank Cornicelli has been the primary lanes inspector for the association.
On the lanes, Ciembroniewicz set the now-defunct Mont Pleasant Lanes average record (220) in 1992-93 and was the average leader in the Mont Pleasant Merchants league five times. He has a composite average of 218 with eight perfect games, a high triple of 811 and a high four-game series of 1,038.
“I’m an old-school guy,” said Ciembroniewicz. “My family has been in the game for a long time. One grandfather was a proprietor at Mont Pleasant. I’m so honored to be in the Hall of Fame with a guy like Frank Cornicelli, who has been my mentor in the association.”
Capullo, 41, proprietor at Towne Bowling Association, joins his father, Marty Capullo Sr., in the Hall of Fame. His wife, Debbie, is one of the top female bowlers in the Capital Region.
Capullo’s bowling exploits are outstanding and include 52 perfect games, a high triple of 856 and a high four-game series of 1,092. He owns a composite average of 225 in 24 years in the SBA, with a high average of 243.
Owner of two Huck Finn titles, Capullo was the average leader in the Towne Majors league 11 straight seasons and 12 out of 13. He was a member of the City League championship team in 2011-12, and was also a member of six national men’s or mixed team award winners for high single or high triple. Many of those teams also included his wife.
Capullo runs many lucrative tournaments at Towne Bowling Academy for both the scratch and handicap bowlers and has been innovative in finding new ways to bring bowlers into his establishment.
“I love the sport, and I love the game,” he said. “My father introduced me to the sport, and I’m so grateful that he did. This is a business that has given me both my wife and my son. I really loved all the trips we made to the nationals.”
The smooth-stroking Smith, 50, is the author of 54 perfect games, eight 299 singles, 15 800 triples and 24 1,000 four-game series. He has a composite average of 222 in 30 years with the SBA and has a high average of 237. His teams won eight team titles in the Sportsman’s Majors and two more in the Capital District All Star League, where he has been secretary for 21 years.
Smith has three Northern Bowling Association titles, and has been a member of six City Championship teams as well as a Green Mountain Open.
“I’m grateful for all the fine people I’ve met in this sport over the years,” he said. “When I started bowling at 6 years old, I would have never imagined being here tonight being inducted into the SBA Hall of Fame.”
Porter (222) and Favata (213) were honored for their high averages among SBA youth bowlers, while Amanda LaBelle and Tom Favata were announced as scholarship winners. Kuhlkin, whose Nebraska team won the national title two years ago and finished second this year, related how she had to bowl through adversity this year, as both her mother and her coach, Bill Straub, became very ill during the season.
Shafer, a Horseheads native, discussed both his career and the state of the PBA tour.
Known for his straight-shooting personality and myriad of superstitions, Shafter related his thoughts on how the pro tour is currently in survival mode and is in desperate need of new sponsors and a new format.
Shafer, 47, has earned more than $1.7 million and has won four times in his 28-year career. The 1987 PBA Rookie of the Year has also captured 23 regional titles and was the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winner twice.