HOUSTON - USBC Hall of Famer Bill Lillard has seen the sport of bowling grow and evolve over the last six decades, and this weekend, he helped usher The Next Revolution, a USBC event, into Houston's Copperfield Bowling Center.
An eight-time champion at the USBC Open Championships and a charter member of the Professional Bowlers Association, Lillard spent the early part of his career touring the world doing exhibitions and clinics, and he's excited to see today's stars doing the same.
On Saturday, Lillard and a center full of bowling fans got their first up-close look at Australian sensation Jason Belmonte and his unique two-handed bowling style. Colombian star Clara Guerrero, a two-time gold medalist at the 2009 World Tenpin Bowling Association World Women's Championships joined him on the lanes.
"The speed and revolutions Jason can put on the ball is amazing to see, and events like this really help promote the game," said Lillard, who co-owns Copperfield Bowling Center and nearby Palace Lanes with Pete Treybig. "Also, the tools that are available to teach bowling today are so advanced
now, which is great. We used to only teach people the basics, so it's nice to see how far things have come."
The Next Revolution was created to give bowlers and fans a first-hand look at the two-handed style that is sweeping the globe as well as give participants a chance to revolutionize their own games with help from Belmonte and his fellow pros. USBC's High Performance Director of Team USA and Coaching David Garber also was on-hand to assist bowlers Saturday.
"This is something I've been looking forward to for a while," said Kyle Young, a 12-year-old two-hander who averages 193. "I used to bowl one-handed but didn't turn the ball like I wanted to, so I decided to try bowling two-handed when I was in second grade. My goals are to bowl an 800 series and bowl in the PBA some day."
To start things off Saturday, Belmonte and Guerrero went toe-to-toe on the lanes to determine once and for all if two hands are indeed better than one. This time, Guerrero prevailed with a 247-192 victory over the 2008-09
PBA Rookie of the Year, but it was all in good fun.
The day also included an hour and a half of on-lane coaching, a question and answer session, autographs and a raffle to benefit The Bowling Foundation, the charitable arm of bowling.
"Anytime you have such a vast range of people curious about something like my two-handed style, you tend to get a lot of questions," Belmonte said. "It's nice to meet people who are willing to ask those questions rather than just slam the door on something because they have not been exposed to
it. I think this Next Revolution series really is opening people's eyes."
On Sunday, Belmonte will team up with PBA star Chris Barnes at AMF Euless Lanes near Dallas for the fourth and final segment of The Next Revolution.
Last season, Belmonte became the first two-handed bowler to win a Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour event by capturing The Bowling Foundation Long Island Classic.
Since taking his show on the road, Belmonte has competed on six continents, winning on four. He has bowled in more than 30 countries and been named World Bowler of the Year on two occasions.
The schedule for the final Next Revolution event is as follows:
SUNDAY, NOV. 8
AMF Euless Lanes
1901 Airport Freeway
Euless, TX 76040
9 a.m. - USBC Coaching class
Noon - The Next Revolution
Featuring: Jason Belmonte and Chris Barnes