In 1961, the United States became a member of the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs, recognized since 1979 as bowling's worldwide governing body by the International Olympic Committee.
The U.S. made its official international debut in the 1963 FIQ World Championships in Mexico, dominating the competition by winning seven out of a possible eight gold medals.
The U.S. Team Trials-predecessor to the USBC Team USA Trials-began in 1971 and were held every other year until 1985, bringing together top amateur and leading collegiate bowlers to determine competitors in FIQ and other international events.
In 1989, a flourishing U.S. national bowling program necessitated the founding of a national governing body known as the United States Tenpin Bowling Federation, which later changed its name to USA Bowling. Governed by a 12-member board which included three athletes, USA Bowling enjoyed recognition as the sport's governing body in the United States by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the FIQ.
USA Bowling coordinated all amateur international competition promoted by USOC or FIQ and conducted the National Amateur Championships. It also pioneered instruction and coaching programs to help bowlers sharpen their skills.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, two figures became legendary for their efforts to place bowling in the global spotlight - Jerry Koenig and Fred Borden.
In 1987, Jerry Koenig was the guiding force in achieving medal status for bowling in the Pan American Games, serving as administrative coordinator for bowling's participation as an exhibition sport in the Olympic Games in South Korea. Meanwhile, Fred Borden guided the national amateur team to international prominence as the heart and soul of Team USA.
Among the highlights of Borden's years as Team USA head coach isthe 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba, when Cuban leaderFidel Castro visited the competition as a spectator. Perhaps as anintimidation factor, Castro showed up at the bowling center withhis entourage just before the competition. After Patrick Healey Jr.rolled an important strike, Borden turned toward Castro and shook his fist in the air. Team USA won gold medals in the men's and women's team event and Healey captured the men's individual event gold medal.
"We dominated the Pan Am Games that year," Borden said. "Fidel Castro had to salute the American flag. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing your athletes on the medal stand as they're playing the National Anthem."
One student of Borden's who knows something about the medal stand is Diandra Asbaty, a two-time U.S. Amateur champion and 10-time Team USA member generally regarded as one of the best female bowlers in the world. Asbaty won four medals, including the Masters gold medal, at the 2003 World Championships in Malaysia.
"It was Fred Borden's last tournament as our coach and everyone felt that they wanted to pay tribute to him by performing the best we could," Asbaty said. "To me, the biggest tournament in the world is the World Championships and to have such a great showing in a country where bowling is really respected was incredible."
As part of Team USA's history, Borden and Asbaty know first hand how integral coaching was to the success of Team USA and USA Bowling.
Though Borden will be remembered for leading Team USA to success, his name also is synonymous with USA Bowling Coaching (now known as USBC Coaching).
A visionary leader in the bowling industry, Borden developed and authored the USA Bowling Coaching program's core cirriculum, the only bowling coaching program recognized by the United States Olympic Committee. USA Bowling Coaching soon blossomed into a complete program that trains and certifies quality coaches for bowlers of all ages and abilities.
Borden's work greatly improved the pool of competitive bowlers in the United States and continues to have a profound influence across all levels of bowling throughout the world. Several Team USA members are following Borden's example and serve as USBC-certified coaches at different levels. For them, USBC Coaching not only prepares the next level of elite athletes to climb the ranks but also to continue the growth of bowling as a lifetime sport.
In 2006, Borden was by joined by Bill Hoffman and Lynda Barnes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to help train Brazilian coaches and prospective athletes for the 2007 Pan American Games.
"We recognize the Brazil Bowling Confederation's efforts to keep bowling as a sport in the Pan American Games, and we were thrilled to assist in the sport's growth there," USBC Chief Officer of National Governing Body Kevin Dornberger said. "One way to ensure continued growth is through coaching, and we were honored to be a part of bowling's rising popularity in Brazil and throughout Latin America."
The Team USA contingent also assisted the Brazilian junior team in preparation for the 2006 American Zone Youth Championships in Mexico. It paid off in a remarkable silver medal in the boys' team event. Growing the sport in other countries, particularly in Central and South America, promises greater notoriety for bowling in the years to come.
With 92 countries represented at the 2006 QubicaAMF World Cup, international support for sending competitors to the showcase demonstrates bowling's potential as an Olympic sport. Each year, the World Cup brings together more countries than any other tournament on the calendar, proving that the international sports community is strongly interested in bowling.
In addition to the countries with established bowling programs that appear in international competition on a regular basis, other countries with fledgling programs such as Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, India and Uzbekistan also competed at the World Cup. More than 100 million people bowl worldwide, of which more than 10 million take part in tournaments, leagues and championships.
Olympic-sport status or not, one perk enjoyed by Team USA members is the annual trip to the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for training camp. While days at the Olympic Training Center are long and the practice sessions grueling, the classroom meetings are informative and the bonding time is entertaining. The "team" is put into Team USA - a team that stands for honor, for pride and for country.
"Team USA gives me the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest players and coaches in the world," said Lynda Barnes, wife of Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour star Chris Barnes and mother of twins Ryan and Troy. "It makes me a better person, player, mom and teammate."