RENO, Nev. - Few groups can claim a bowling dynasty, but that's exactly what the 5 Sisters team of Fremont, Neb., can do.
Hailing from a family of nine sisters and two brothers, this dynasty went on to create generations of enthusiastic bowlers, who now are spread across the United States. This week, five of the sisters made their way to Reno for the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships.
The sisters even have their own family bowling center, 30 Bowl in Fremont, to practice and bowl league in. The center is owned by Terry Synovec, the son of the eldest sister, Mardell Heybrock.
"30 Bowl is where the excitement happens today," the 80-year-old Heybrock said. "My 13-year-old grandson bowled his first 300 game there, and it's a gathering point for all of our bowling, too."
Heybrock ventured into the sport after signing up for a work team at Hormel more than 50 years ago. She then convinced her sisters to join her on the lanes, a tradition that trickled down to the grandkids and great-grandkids and continues to grow stronger.
Although Heybrock thought this USBC Women's Championships might be her last, enthusiasm about seeing new sites next year in Reno - as well as accompanying her sons and nephews to the USBC Open Championships in 2013 - might have changed her mind. That opportunity is possible because both tournaments will be held in the same host city for the first time next year.
Today, the sisters, whose Women's Championships participation ranges from two to 10 years, wear similar glasses and hairstyles, and they share a contagious sense of humor. They also say other women want to be adopted into their tight-knit group.
"We laugh at anything and everything," said Shirley Dwyer, 76. "We come for the fun, and if we win any money, that's a bonus. I just know that our mother is looking down and saying, 'Oh, you girls!'"
The team competed in the Sapphire Division and was led by Norma Hagerty's 464 series. She was followed by Judy Anderson (459), Dwyer (442), Gloria Andersen (390) and Heybrock (303). With their additional 36 pins of handicap per game, they finished with a 2,166 total. The Sapphire Division includes teams with a combined average of 749 and below, with handicap based on 100 percent of 750.
Presenting sponsors for the 2012 USBC Women's Championships are Circus Circus, Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nev. Other sponsors include Harrah's Reno Casino, official brackets sponsor, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Humana, official registration sponsor, Steltronic, official scoring system, and supporting sponsors Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, Sands Regency Casino Hotel and Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa and MyBowlingVacation.com.