Zodiacs celebrate 50 years during 2018 USBC Women's Championships

By Christian Seaborn and Aaron Smith
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev.
- Known as the "World's Best-Dressed Bowling Team," the Zodiacs of New Orleans have been a staple at the United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships since 1969.

The team, headed by founder and captain Linda Prattini of Metairie, Louisiana, celebrated its 50th consecutive trip to the world's largest participatory sporting event for women this week at the National Bowling Stadium and was presented with a commemorative plaque to recognize the team's longevity.

The theme for the team's costume in 2018 was "Black and Golden Girls," which featured a custom Zodiacs patch and gold hats proudly displaying the number 50 on the front.

Prattini, who celebrated her 52nd consecutive USBC Women's Championships, introduced the Zodiacs at the 1969 event in San Diego to protest the tournament's dress code. The team arrived at University Lanes that year in full-length formal dresses that would break away at the knees once they were ready to bowl.

"Those were probably the most difficult costumes to create," Prattini said. "It took us 10 months to put those outfits together."

Since then, the Zodiacs became a hit each year at the Women's Championships as each team member would hand-craft a new costume based on a theme. Themes often were determined by characteristics of the host city or events taking place in New Orleans.

Past themes have included the Indianapolis 500, Uncle Sam and Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz." Their dedication to their home city included designs reflecting Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl XLIV victory.

A total of five four-player teams arrived in Reno this week representing the Zodiacs for the team's golden anniversary. It marked the biggest group Prattini has assembled during the team's journey, with bowlers ranging in age from 36 to 86.
The group was a mix of longtime Zodiacs, like Muriel Staunton of Metairie, who also celebrated her 40th Women's Championships appearance, as well as new additions to the team. Brandi Donelon of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, made her tournament debut at the NBS as part of the Zodiacs' 50th appearance.

"I was very impressed with the whole march down Center Aisle," Donelon said. "That was the best part."

Staunton has enjoyed all of the camaraderie she's been able to share as part of the Zodiacs.

"Through the years, we've met so many wonderful people by bowling in the Women's Championships," Staunton said. "For me, that has been one of the best parts."

Prattini has been facing health issues lately and was thrilled when she received clearance from her doctor to travel to this year's event. Her resilience during the team's journey has helped create memories for bowlers across the country, and her reason for the dedication is simple and true.

"I just love this game," Prattini said. "One of the aspects that I've always treasured has been visiting all of the different bowling centers. Also, we were able to meet Liberace through the Zodiacs."

Joining Prattini, Staunton and Donelon as Zodiacs in 2018 were Kathy Ayme, Denise Chamberlain, Sandra Gulley, Lynne Champagne, Linda Simoneaux, Judith Vincent, Mary Comstock, Melanie Burton, Shirley Crowley, Janet Strong, Judi Stachowski, Jacqueth Norton, Denise Pierson, Carol Rockwell, Katherine Meariman, Ada Vincent and Donna Brady.

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