ARLINGTON, Texas - For much of 2018, Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, has been on the road showcasing her skills against the best bowlers in the world - both women and men - and finding success on multiple continents.
Immediately following a successful Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour season that included her fourth PWBA Tour title and a run at player of the year, the 27-year-old right-hander was on a plane to Asia, where she made a pair of championship-round appearances and picked up another coveted international victory.
McEwan now will use a combination of the momentum from her recent hot streak and the motivation of some near-misses during the PWBA Tour season to lead a contingent of Team USA members into the Pan American Bowling Confederation Champion of Champions event in Rio De Janeiro.
She will be joined in Brazil by 14-time Team USA member Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, and two players making their Team USA debuts - Matt Farber of Plainview, New York, and Matt Russo of Millstone Township, New Jersey.
The tournament will be held at the 26-lane Bowling Social Club from Oct. 22-25. Competitors will bowl for medals in singles, doubles and Masters competition, with singles kicking off the action Oct. 23.
PABCON, formerly known as the American Zone, features countries located within the Western Hemisphere (North and South America, Caribbean, etc.).
"I'm very happy with how my PWBA season went, but there were many moments where I was so close, and the difference was one game or even one shot," said McEwan, who won the 2018 PBA International-World Bowling Tour Thailand event and then finished third at the SamHo Korea Cup International Open Bowling Tournament. "I was still very motivated and felt like things were going in the right direction when the PWBA season ended, and I was able to bring that fire to Asia."
The change in hemispheres also will bring a change from individual competition to a team environment, where the players will communicate and support one another.
Along with the excitement of visiting Brazil for the first time, McEwan is looking forward to again sharing the lanes with Kulick. Not only has Kulick served as a mentor for McEwan during her seven years on Team USA, the two also have enjoyed some memorable moments together, including three world championships (doubles, trios, team) since 2015.
"I used to watch players like Kelly and Shannon (O'Keefe) and Missy Parkin, and it made me want to work to become one of the best players in the world," McEwan said. "I'm really looking forward to this event and bowling with Kelly. The cool thing about bowling with her is that we may not necessarily be feeding off each other because our games are so different, but we're easily able to talk about what we're seeing and doing, and it's a lot of fun."
Kulick had a solid PWBA Tour season as well, finishing ninth on the points list and closing the year with her three best finishes - eighth, second and second.
In all, McEwan's travels have taken her to approximately 30 countries, and the continued up ticking of her personal odometer now has her serving a mentor role, too, as young players looking to test themselves overseas are turning to her for guidance.
Among them is Farber, a 24-year-old right-hander who relied on McEwan's expertise to book his recent trip to Thailand and get comfortable once they were on the ground in Bangkok and ready to bowl.
"Danielle was such an incredible help in not just booking my recent trip, but in helping with the ins and outs of the travel itself and making sure I was physically ready to compete when we got there," said Farber, a collegiate national titlist with McKendree University in 2018. "I do appreciate her help, as well as the recent opportunity to train with, and learn from, some of the best teammates and coaches during our recent Team USA training camp."
But, as much as Farber appreciates the tutelage of his teammates and coaches, he doesn't want it to be just a one-way street.
"I don't want to be all about the take," Farber added. "Hopefully, I also can offer something to the team and toward our success in Brazil. I'm extremely excited about the opportunity, and it means a lot to know the coaches and USBC believe in me."
Russo, the lone left-hander headed to Brazil for Team USA, is the 2017 U.S. Amateur champion and was the runner-up in 2018 in his bid for a second consecutive win at the event.
The 21-year-old also is making his first international excursion as part of the Team USA program.
Competition at the PABCON Champion of Champions this year will take place on the 44-foot London oil pattern.
The countries scheduled to participate are Argentina, Aruba, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, United States, Uruguay and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In addition to everything on the line at the event itself, the tournament also will serve as a chance for some of the teams to qualify for the 2019 Pan American Games, which will be held next summer in Lima, Peru.
All countries have designated two PABCON or other regional events, such as the Central American Games or Caribbean Games, as their qualifying attempts, and the United States chose the PABCON Championships (the men's edition will be held in early 2019) and the PABCON Champion of Champions event.
Men's and women's teams each must qualify separately, and the top five eligible women's teams and top five eligible men's teams in Brazil will advance.
The Team USA women claimed one of the two spots up for grabs at the recent PABCON Women's Championships in the Dominican Republic.
The Lima 2019 Pan American Games (July 26-Aug. 11) will bring together approximately 6,700 athletes and feature 39 sports and 62 disciplines. The Pan Am Games are the second largest multi-sport event, gathering the 41 National Olympic Committees that make up PanamSports.
For more information on Team USA, visit BOWL.com/TeamUSA.
For more information, or to follow the scores from the PABCON Champion of Champions, visit PABCON.org.