SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Material items can be replaced, but decades of memories and camaraderie are priceless.
Craig Myers of League City, Texas, lived those lessons this year, and it was the latter that brought him and his group of five teams to the 2018 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.
Myers was one of more than 13 million people affected by Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm that devastated parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky in August, causing more than $100 billion in damage.
The storm was aggressive and relentless in taking ownership of the Myers home, which started flooding at 6:30 a.m. and quickly filled with more than 8 feet of water.￼
Myers and his wife, Martha, had a few minutes to grab some clothes, their pets, Myers’ mother and their vehicles, and it would be more than a week before they could get back in. Their home and all their possessions were a total loss.
Among Myers’ belongings were more than three decades of USBC Open Championships memorabilia and awards, things he thought actually were irreplaceable, though the memories of those trips and events are indestructible.
As a coordinator for five teams at the Open Championships, Myers is responsible for the participation of 25 bowlers, and despite what he and some of his teammates experienced at home last year, skipping the 2018 event never was an option.
Myers’ own team came to Syracuse this week with more than 120 combined years of experience, with Norman Farr of Baytown, Texas, scheduled to join Myers (36) and Richard Martin (31) in the 30-Year Club.
“Not coming never was considered, especially with Norman celebrating his 30th year,” said Myers, who made his Open Championships debut in nearby Niagara Falls, New York, in 1983. “To see him get that award means everything. He loves this sport, and he’s even the association president. His house also was flooded, and if he was coming, we all were going to be here with him. Luckily, he’ll get to move back into his house soon, too.”
Myers and his wife weren’t as fortunate, but they’ve since found a new place to live and, replacing their clothing and furniture and personal items is a work in progress.
With the Open Championships on the horizon, Myers reached out to see if it would be possible to replace the participation awards he’s collected at the event, which included three plaques and 11 chevrons. Plaques are awarded every fifth year, beginning with 25, while chevrons now are received each year, starting at 20.
Myers, 65, wasn’t sure if his request would pan out, but he ended up getting far more than he ever expected.
“In the squad room last night, they called me up for my 36-year award and also presented the replacements for all the items I lost,” Myers said. “I never could’ve expected that. I thought if anything, they’d probably just mail them to me. I am not sure how I will feel when I get to put them up in our new house. It’s priceless. I don’t know how to put into words what this tournament means to me.”
Though he didn’t know much about the Open Championships when he first competed, Myers immediately wanted to learn more about the history and tradition. From that first year, he set his sights on reaching 50 years of participation, which quickly is approaching.
The tournament has given him the chance to see parts of the country he never would’ve seen otherwise, and getting to share it with his teammates makes it that much more special. While Myers coordinates the group for the Open Championships, Martin handles the responsibilities for their state event.
“I really have a great group of guys who come with me to this tournament to compete, but it also serves as a vacation,” Myers said. “With everything going on, they all offered to help in any way they could, and I truly appreciate it. As much as this event has allowed me to see places like Billings, Montana, and Syracuse, it’s really about the fellowship and spending time together.”
The group’s journey will continue in 2019 when the event returns to Las Vegas.
Myers, who earned a spot in the Captain’s Club by registering five or more teams, is looking to add a sixth team to the roster for the tournament’s second visit to the South Point Bowling Plaza.
“This tournament is one of the few times each year we really get to be together, and we’re looking forward to continuing the tradition,” said Myers, who bowls league at Max Bowl East in Baytown. “Even though we see each other every week when we bowl league in the same center, we may be on opposite ends and not get to talk very much.”
Registration for the 2019 Open Championships is open. The event will run for 114 days, beginning March 9, 2019.