© St. Petersburg Times, published April 18, 2003
Jerry Ehlman and Steve Zwerling lived about 20 miles apart on Long Island, N.Y., but never met until they retired to Lakeland in the late 1990s.
Then, as fate would have it, they crossed paths at a local spa. Together, they dove into a common cause -- the revival of the National Amateur Bowler's Inc. clubs in Florida.
"I worked NABI tournaments for Mark Gilbert in 2001 in Sarasota, Orlando and Ocala," Ehlman said. "In April, almost exactly two years ago this week, Mark turned over the club operations to me. Steve volunteered to help, and here we are today."
NABI was created in 1982 by Bradenton pro bowlers Judy and Dave Soutar.
The hall of fame members were looking for a tourney that catered to amateur bowlers. John McCoy bought the idea from the Soutars, established a headquarters in Kansas City, Kan., and sold franchises across the country. NABI has about 20,000 members in 40 clubs.
The Pinellas County organization was started in 1989 by Bob Manker and Shirley Lockyer. They opened clubs in Orlando, Lakeland, Bradenton and Ocala before leaving the area four years later.
NABI was dormant until Larry and Debbie Roesler took up the cause three years ago. They relinquished their franchise in the past several weeks.
"We now are committed to reviving the clubs, establishing the high standards that national demands and bringing more bowlers into the NABI fold," Ehlman said. "Our new club, No.570, includes Pinellas County, and we plan to expand to Pasco and Hillsborough counties very soon."
Ehlman and Zwerling have established NABI scratch clubs for the higher average competitors, with club No.578 covering the Pinellas area.
"We are working on a schedule and establishing contacts with past NABI players to increase our membership," Ehlman said.
Yearly membership dues are $25 with a $10 renewal fee. The cost to enter handicap club tournaments is $40, $50 for scratch events.
"Our max is 62 pins per game with a handicap of 90 percent of 205," Ehlman said. "We feel this is fair and will attract more bowlers."
St.Petersburg's Royce Pauley, a longtime NABI member, won the new club's first tourney and $230 at Seminole Lanes on April 6. St.Petersburg's Mel Dukes was second. Venice's Jeff Pennell and Joyce Filipanits finished third and fourth, respectively.
Largo's Amy Bowes won the second event and $250 a week later at Seminole Lanes. Clearwater's John Lafond was second, Cathy Worrall third, Pauley fourth and longtime member Les Foerster fifth.
NABI returns to Seminole Lanes on May 26-27.
PREP ENDING: Pinellas Park won the scratch title and Palm Harbor No.1 the handicap championship as the Pinellas County Spring High School League ended last week. Adam Mastelli, Ryan Mastar and Justin Foraker made up the Patriots squad that beat Palm Harbor No.2 by 13 points. Lakewood recorded the high scratch game (737) and East Lake No.1 the high series (1,891). Jesse Robinson, East Lake No.1, fired the season-high scratch game-series (288-798). Kelly Fecke, Palm Harbor No.2, rolled the high game (278). Courtney Yeakley, East Lake No.2, posted the high series (716). Beckey Marhafer, Kristi Montone and Andrew Carr were the Palm Harbor team that took the handicap crown, beating Countryside No.6 by a half point. East Lake No.1 produced the high game-series (818-2,215). Joe Govematori, East Lake No.2, logged the high handicap game (324). Jesse Robinson, East Lake No.1, rolled the high series (858) and Fecke the girls high handicap game (297).
GOLD WINNERS: Team No.8 won the rolloff in the B.C. Junior Gold Youth League at AMF Clearwater Lanes last week, ending the 30-week season. Courtney Yeakley, Adam Ali, Justin Foraker and Terrance Reeves made up the squad that defeated Team No.4. Reeves received bowler of the year recognition. Qualifiers for the national tournament later this year were Shaun Goucher, Billy Kitchens, Joe Marino, Joe Noodwang, Ryan Brembs, Yeakley and Ali.
WHEELCHAIR COMPETITORS: The Florida State Wheelchair Bowling Association will have its state tournament April 25-27 at Southland Lanes. The registration fee is $60 per bowler. Expected entries include Largo's past champion, Jim Sullivan; Miami's Jerry Jones, Sebring's Don Porpora, Melbourne's Roger Templar, and Dave Roberts of Clover, Va. Payoffs will depend on number of entries. For information, call Wayne Webber, (727) 738-1342.
AROUND THE LANES: High scorers -- Russell Stratton, 300-280-815, and Chad Whalen, 299-650, at AMF Kenneth City. Robert Ruska, 300, and Gulick, 280-864, Sunrise. Paul Hampshire, 300-705, Southland. Mitch Brooker, 279-816, Keith Glasgow, 278-800, Rick Kristich, 300, and Steve Jones, 300, Liberty. Bob Hubbard Jr., 300-793, Phil Grinstead, 300-682, and Gary Koonz, 299-739, Seminole Lanes. ... Ken Darby fired a 296-843, among the highest series this season.