SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Marilyn Johnson of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., loves to travel, which is why bowling in the USBC Women's Championships has become an annual tradition for the 71-year-old right-hander.
"I follow the tournament wherever it goes," said Johnson, who listed Salt Lake City and Baton Rouge, La., as two of her favorite Women's Championships destinations. "We like to travel to places we've never been. We like to see different cities."
This year, Johnson didn't have to venture very far in making her 31st tournament appearance at the Oncenter Convention Center on Tuesday. She is familiar with Syracuse, which hosted several events, including 600 Club tournaments, during her 20-year tenure as a New York State director.
Having the Women's Championships return to New York for the first time since Buffalo hosted it in 1996 was special for Johnson, who bowled team event with her two daughters, Joanne Spridco and Lori Heneka, her granddaughter, 19-year-old Amanda Johnson, and close family friend, 96-year-old Helen Busch. They called their team Friends and Family.
"This is a first for us, bowling all together," Johnson said. "This is Amanda's first national tournament. It's close to where we live. We thought it would be fun to do."
Johnson, who bowls at Hoe Bowl Mardi-Bob Lanes and Fishkill Bowl, competed in the Ruby Division this year (bowlers with averages from 150-179) and posted scores of 479 in singles, 475 in doubles and 391 in team for a 1,345 all-events total, and an additional 24 pins of handicap per game helped her to a final total of 1,561.
Her 2011 Women's Championships appearance was a prelude to her induction into the New York Women's State Bowling Hall of Fame on June 11.
Already a member of the Poughkeepsie Bowling Hall of Fame, Johnson's credentials include many years of service. She was nominated for her latest honor by her daughter Lori, and she will be enshrined for Meritorious Service.
Johnson is an active member of the state, national and local 600 clubs, has served as chair for their annual Queens Tournament and has been a member of several committees at the state level. A former youth coach, Johnson also has been recognized by the Dutchess County Sports Museum for her service to bowling.
"Being inducted into the state hall of fame is something I never expected," Johnson said. "It's something you think about, but never believe it will happen. I've been very devoted to bowling."