SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Georgene Cordes of Apple Valley, Minn., has an upbeat outlook and brightened up the Oncenter Convention Center when she celebrated her 50th appearance at the USBC Women's Championships on May 7.
Waving to a cheering crowd, the 83-year-old right-hander was escorted down Center Aisle by USBC's Brian Whitman before being presented with the engraved plaque and large bouquet of spring blossoms to commemorate her milestone.
Cordes was the first of three bowlers who will reach the 50-year mark this year, with Nancy Folden of Memphis, Tenn., scheduled to add her name to the list May 17. After this year, the Women's Championships record book will include 12 bowlers who have competed 50 or more times, while four have eclipsed the 60-year plateau.
"I'm sure everyone who bowls Nationals enjoys this experience," Cordes said. "I've done 50 of them, but I have enjoyed the sport for more than 50 years. Nationals has always been so much fun. I love the camaraderie."
Cordes was thrilled to bowl on USBC Hall of Famer Marion Ladewig's lanes during her Women's Championships debut at the 1947 event in Grand Rapids, Mich. She also snagged a doubles title in 1976 when she and Shirley Sjostrom tied for the top spot in Classic Doubles with a 1,232 total.
Cordes is a member of both the Minneapolis and Minnesota State Halls of Fame and is a former professional bowler. Now, she bowls regularly at Cedarvale Lanes in Eagan, Minn. She touched on memories of sharing the lanes with other equally dedicated bowlers and mentioned their team clothes, made by a local seamstress in Minneapolis.
"That was back when women wore only skirts and blouses to bowl in, and we special-ordered our outfits," she added. "That's just how we did it then."
The retired City of Bloomington secretary almost didn't make it to Syracuse this year, however. Two heart surgeries in January and February preceded the sudden death of her husband, Wayne, in March. The two spouses were very close and even shared matching 206 bowling averages at one time
Cordes only competed in the team event this year and finished with a 427 series to help Drkulas I of Apple Valley to a handicap score of 2,518 in Ruby Team. Striking Ladies of East Kingston, N.H., leads Ruby Team with 2,823.
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.