Local bowlers compare 1954 and 2011 WC

WCShirleyLaFaverSumSYRACUSE, N.Y. - The last time the USBC Women's Championships was held in Syracuse, team captains spent 3 cents on postage to submit their entries, and competitors heading to event paid 29 cents per gallon for gasoline.

The year was 1954, and 4,538 five-player teams made their way east to compete at the Jefferson Bowling Academy, the same venue that played host to the Women's Championships in 1940.

Among the competitors in 1954 were two women from nearby Liverpool, N.Y., Shirley Lafaver and Barbara Stauffer, who have watched the event evolve over the years and helped welcome the tournament back to Salt City in 2011.

The two Syracuse Bowling Association Hall of Famers celebrated 30 and 36 years of Women's Championships participation, respectively, when they competed at the Oncenter Convention Center just days apart within the last week.

Not only are both women from Liverpool, a suburb of Syracuse, they also bowl at Flamingo Bowl and share birthdays in the month of February.

Lafaver, an 83-year-old right-hander, celebrated her milestone appearance Saturday and enjoyed the opportunity to compare this year's tournament with the 1954 event.

"There were more young bowlers back then, and we also wore skirts - usually the long pleated ones that our sponsors paid for," Lafaver said. "We were sponsored by just about every type of business, too, from funeral homes to auto repairs shops. But, I do like the new setup. It's really nice with the specially-constructed lanes and surrounding atmosphere."

Lafaver began bowling in a company league while working as a telephone operator for New York Bell. Soon, Syracuse Hall of Famer Adeline Alberts took her under her wing, entering them both in a lot of tournaments.

WCBarbStaufferSumThe pupil subsequently became a Syracuse Hall of Famer herself, inducted in 2001, and also belongs to the Syracuse 600 Club.

"In 1983, we had so many locals bowling in the championships that we chartered our own plane to Las Vegas," Lafaver added. "Two of my favorite cities we visited were Bismarck - even though we were snowed into our hotel for two days, the people were really nice - and Salt Lake City. We attended church there and got to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing. It was wonderful."

This year, Lafaver competed in the Ruby Division, posting scores of 131, 139 and 143 to help her team to a 2,189 total. A nagging right-knee injury prevented her from bowling doubles and singles, but she enjoyed competing in the team event with her daughter, Stacey Schloop, also of Liverpool.

Stauffer, a 79-year-old left-hander, was recognized for her 36 years on Monday. She made her Women's Championship debut at the 1954 event at the age of 22 and bowled with her four sisters, Frances Sass, Anne Adams, Roseann Bretzer and Mary Jane Egloff. They appropriately named their team The Five Sisters.

"It was just an honor to bowl in that tournament because we were just local bowlers, and we were all sisters," Stauffer said. "They had foul judges back then. The lady that threw the first ball was Marion Ladewig, a professional bowler. It was really awesome. I was in awe."

This week, Stauffer rolled a 479 series in team and helped Adam's Apples to a 2,874 total in the Diamond Division. She finished with 502 in singles and 499 in doubles for a 1,786 all-events total, which includes 34 pins of handicap per game.

Stauffer was thrilled to have the Women's Championships back in her hometown.

"It means a lot to be able to bowl in Syracuse again," Stauffer said.

For Stauffer, participating in the Women's Championships is her passion.

"I hope I can keep doing it until I can't pick up a bowling ball any more," she said. "I really love bowling. I love the girls I bowl with. I'm just hoping I can keep going to all the tournaments and our team can stay the same. We've been together for quite some time."

The Ruby Division includes bowlers with averages between 150 and 179, while the Diamond Division includes bowlers with averages of 180 and above.

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.