In 2023, Staten Island’s longest running bowling tournament will celebrate its 75th Diamond Anniversary. The first championships were contested in 1949 at Coliseum Bowling Center (Port Richmond). The tournament featured 58 teams of five women bowlers and 84 doubles & singles entries.
The event was formed by a group of trailblazers, leaders of the Staten Island Woman’s Bowling Association (S.I.W.B.A.) who wanted to provide opportunities for the women bowlers of Staten Island. As President Mildred E. Hanisch said in her event greetings “To many of us, the tournament represents a milestone of progress in Staten Island bowling. For years, Staten Island was at a standstill in organization of bowling but now, after a great deal of effort, time, and perseverance, we have our own association.”
The event was part of their effort to create their own association and be chartered by the Women’s International Bowling Congress (W.I.B.C.), now known as the United States Bowling Congress (USBC).
In 1949, two-hundred and ten women bowlers on Staten Island petitioned the W.I.B.C. for a charter, which was eventually granted in November of that year.
These women worked tirelessly to promote the association, its leagues, and its new Championship Tournament by recruiting new members, and soon the event was thriving. The association grew from 232 members bowling in 19 leagues to 963 members in 40 leagues by 1951. The tournament also saw continued growth to 74 teams and 144 doubles & singles entries by its third championships in that same year.
Fast forward to today, and the event is still going strong. On February 18th, the tournament will kick off at Rab’s Country Lanes, where bowlers from all over Staten Island will come together to compete for the coveted titles.
Nazareth Laursen, SIUSBC Director, longtime competitor, and Manager of Rab’s Country Lanes said “I can remember bowling in my first event in the late 70s, competing against the best of the best. Knowing if I wanted any chance at winning, I would have to out-bowl some incredible women bowlers. This tournament has been a showcase of the passion, skill, and camaraderie that exists within our sport.”
In 2022, Nazareth slid into second on the Championships all-time records list for the most titles won (Singles, Doubles, Team, and All Events) with 18 titles since her first in 1989 (2 Singles, 3 Doubles, 10 Team, and 3 All Events.) Peggy Maguire Garbarino holds the record at 26 titles.
The Championships are run side-by-side of the SIUSBC Men’s Championship Tournament and continues to feature its signature events; Team, Doubles, and Singles, over the course of 8 days and three weekends of intense competition, as well as a variety of fun activities to commemorate the tournament’s rich history.
“The Associations founders would be proud to see that the tradition is alive and well. From a small group of women with a passion for bowling, the event has grown into a thriving community of strong, talented women who continue to break down barriers and pave the way for future generations”– Staten Island USBC President Jim Episcopia.
The opening ceremonies, which will include a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, special guests, and more, takes place on Saturday, Feb. 18, starting at noon at Rab’s.
So come out and join the celebration, as we honor 75 years of women’s bowling on Staten Island!
Bowlers may visit SIUSBC.org to register and for additional information.