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IBMA ANNOUNCES 2020 MAJOR AWARD WINNERS ARLINGTON, Texas – The International Bowling Media Association (IBMA) has elected winners in seven categories for our 2020 Major Awards. The winners will receive their awards during the BPAA Industry Awards Luncheon at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center scheduled for July 4 during International Bowl Expo.
LUBY HALL OF FAME – LEN NICHOLSON
Len Nicholson’s first area of expertise is the field of lane maintenance, including developing a thorough grasp of all the physical intricacies of the sport. He has parlayed that – with the help of the power of his personality – into a later-life career in the bowling media. The man behind the “Phantom Radio” show, Nicholson began producing the internet-based program on a weekly basis in 2002 at the urging of the late John Davis, founder of Kegel. Davis told him, “Len, people need to know what you know.” Nicholson’s interview subjects include experts from all areas of the bowling business, along with many of the biggest names in PBA history.
ALBERTA E. CROWE MERITORIOUS SERVICE – JOHN LaSPINA
An unrelenting force for charitable initiatives, longtime Maple Family Centers proprietor John LaSpina’s work as Chairman of the Bowlers to Veterans Link (BVL) has helped raise millions of dollars on behalf of military veterans in need. Those efforts culminated in November 2018 with the presentation of a $1.1 million check to the Department of Veterans Affairs. LaSpina, whose mother lost vision in one eye after being struck by a baseball, also continues to be a tireless advocate for the Fight for Sight organization, for which he serves as a board member. His “Strike for Sight” bowling fundraiser each November raises thousands of dollars for vision research. LaSpina embodies what bowling has been about for a long time: using the sport’s unique power as a charitable tool to help those who need it.
MIKE HENNESSY AWARD OF MERIT – KEITH HAMILTON
The IBMA was being deemed as irrelevant by some industry partners before Keith Hamilton took the helm. His professionalism and industry contacts brought back new respect for the organization. Hamilton served as vice president and president of the IBMA for a total of six years. During his tenure as president, he created a sponsorship from the BBIA of $20,000 to fund the Chuck Pezzano Scholarship to the tune of $5,000 per year for a term of four years. He also created the Corporate Membership category and the Proprietor Support program, both of which helped fund the Pezzano Scholarship. Membership in IBMA grew approximately 8 percent during Hamilton’s presidency through corporate memberships, while revenue increased more than 42 percent during that same time frame. Scholarship applications went from six in 2016 to more than 60 in 2019. IBMA Writing competition entries increased from 39 to more than 100 in that same time frame.
BOWLERS OF THE YEAR – JASON BELMONTE and SHANNON O’KEEFE
Jason Belmonte was the runaway winner for IBMA Male Bowler of the year, easily outdistancing finalists Jakob Butturff and Sean Rash. He was the only one of the three finalists to win two PBA Majors (the PBA Tournament of Champions and World Championships). Belmonte’s other titles came in the Chameleon Championships and DHC PBA Japan Invitational. He also led the PBA in points (36,590), average (225.62) and earnings ($288,290).
Shannon O’Keefe was an easy choice for IBMA Female Bowler of the Year. She won five PWBA titles, including the Players Championships, and was the PWBA leader in both points (148,122) and earnings ($87,275). Her other PWBA titles were the Twin Cities Open, Tucson Open, East Hartford Open, and the Orlando Open. O’Keefe won a gold medal for Team USA in the doubles event of the Pan American Confederation tournament.
SENIOR BOWLERS OF THE YEAR – NORM DUKE and JEANNIE NACCARATO
Norm Duke earned this year’s IBMA Senior Male Bowler of the Year with stats coming in from both the PBA and PBA50 Tours. Duke won the Go Bowling! PBA Indianapolis Open and Go Bowling! PBA Jonesboro Open, and was in the top five in three other events on the regular PBA Tour. On the PBA50 Tour, Duke finished in the top seven in all six tournaments he entered, with a high finish of third in three events. Between both tours, Duke pocketed a cool $126,415 and was the front runner for this award. He easily outdistanced runner-up Walter Ray Williams Jr., who won the first three PBA50 titles in 2019.
Jeannie Naccarato won the title over fellow bowlers Debbie Ayers and Linda Walbaum for the 2019 Senior Female Bowler of the Year. Naccarato’s impressive championship performance in the 2019 USBC Queens and a runner-up finish in the Golden Ladies Classic made her the clear choice on the ballot. She was also the leading money winner among the women’s senior finalists, earning $9,302 in 2019.
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About the International Bowling Media Association
Located at the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas, the IBMA provides awards and recognition to professional and amateur bowlers, industry volunteers and bowling writers, as well as promotes bowling journalism as a career choice to youth bowlers throughout America. For more information log on to http://www.bowlingmedia.org.