SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Nancy Folden of Memphis, Tenn., joined an exclusive club at the USBC Women's Championships when she made her 50th tournament appearance at the Oncenter Convention Center on Tuesday.
The 80-year-old right-hander was the second of three bowlers scheduled to reach the 50-year mark this year and was both nervous and excited as she was escorted down Center Aisle by Women's Championships Tournament Manager Eric Pierson to the strains of "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra prior to her team event.
"This is something I looked forward to because it was something I knew I could achieve in my life," said Folden, who made her tournament debut at the 1955 event in Omaha, Neb. "It's not something that everyone has the privilege to do. It means a lot to me to say I've bowled in 50 tournaments."
Dressed in a white polo shirt and navy slacks, Folden graciously accepted a bouquet of flowers and an engraved plaque from USBC's Andy Zumwalt to the applause of the 41-team squad. The 2011 event marked Folden's 49th consecutive appearance after missing the six years following her debut.
Folden's most memorable tournament happened in Denver in 1976 when she was the singles runner-up with a 652 series.
"That's the one that stands out the most in my mind," Folden said. "I also worked the tournament in 1963 when it was in Memphis, which was on computer for the first time, and that was a big challenge. They all have been memorable, but it's more about the people you meet and get to know through the tournament."
Folden is the veteran of her Kroger-Delta KMA team, which has bowled in a combined 204 tournaments and currently competes in the Sapphire Division with other teams with combined averages of 749 and below.
She bowled leadoff this year and finished with a 349 scratch series in team and added 389 in doubles and 295 in singles.
While competing in the team event, Folden had her 50-year participation chevron pinned to her polo shirt as she continued to enjoy her milestone celebration. She did, however, try to keep her bowling in perspective.
"I know my good bowling days are behind me," said Folden, who retired from Kroger, a grocery store chain, in 2010 after 25 years of service. "I'm just happy to keep it out of the gutter at this point in my life."
Folden also served as secretary/treasurer for the National 600 Club from 1966-1984 and owns two Tennessee state team titles, a Memphis city singles crown and a city team title.
Sponsors for the 2011 USBC Women's Championships sponsors include Turning Stone Resort and Casino, official brackets sponsor, Humana, official registration sponsor, Miller Lite and Molson Canadian, official beer sponsors. Supporting sponsors include Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, The Oncenter, Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau, Caz Limo & Tours, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, US Steltronic, official scoring system, and Brunswick, official lane provider.