RECIPIENTS SELECTED FOR 2022 USBC NATIONAL RECOGNITION AWARDS
ARLINGTON, Texas - Jim O'Reilly of Wabasha, Minnesota, Becky Jones of Lubbock, Texas, and John Burns of Odessa, Texas, were selected by the United States Bowling Congress Board of Directors to receive USBC National Recognition Awards.
O'Reilly is the Joyce Deitch Unity Award winner, Jones is this year's recipient of the Helen Baker Award for Outstanding Association Service and Burns has been selected as the USBC Proprietor of the Year.
The annual awards honor outstanding bowling leaders for their contributions to the sport. Selections were made from submitted applications, and the recipients will receive their awards at the 2022 USBC Convention in Las Vegas.
The USBC Joyce Deitch Unity Award is named in honor of the seventh president of the Women's International Bowling Congress. It recognizes organizations and individuals who have made important contributions to the sport of bowling by being motivators, visionaries, leaders and/or innovators.
O'Reilly has been contributing to various areas of the bowling world for nearly five decades and has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to coaching, equipment and running a bowling center.
As a USBC Silver coach, he has helped, and continues to help, countless youth and high school bowlers navigate through their young careers.
From the equipment side of the sport, O'Reilly is an active member of the International Bowling Pro Shop & Instructors Association, currently serving on the organization's board. For many years, he worked in sales for a bowling distributor, and he still does that part-time.
The experience from both of those endeavors has allowed him to find success as a pro shop operator, and he continues to build on his knowledge by attending as many classes and seminars as he can.
He also helps install and maintain equipment for Kegel.
Most notably, O'Reilly has been the proprietor for multiple bowling centers in his career, with the 10-lane Riverboat Lanes in Wabasha being his current focus.
The 75-year-old also is a past president and current board member for the Bowling Proprietors Association of Minnesota. He was selected as the 2017 Minnesota Proprietor of the Year and was inducted into the Pioneer category of the Minnesota State USBC Hall of Fame in 2021.
"I'm absolutely humbled by this honor," O'Reilly said. "I'm really no different than many others in this business. I'm passionate about bowling, and I enjoy what I do. I do everything possible to help make the sport better."
The USBC Helen Baker Award for Outstanding Association Service is named in honor of the fifth president of WIBC and recognizes an outstanding bowling leader who has made invaluable contributions to local and state associations as an innovator, creator and mentor of adult programs.
Jones has been a consistent contributor in her local and state associations - the Lubbock USBC and Texas State USBC - for 16 and 15 years, respectively.
At both levels, she has developed programs to help improve the overall service and value to the members, and her efforts in strategic planning, business continuity and disaster recovery have helped create templates for improvement in those areas.
Jones also developed a manual for training board members and a program for board evaluations, while working with young bowlers has kept her motivated and full of fresh ideas.
When she found out about the award, she thought she was calling in to talk about some of those initiatives.
"There was a little bit of trickery with the phone call," Jones said. "I was floored by the news and humbled when hearing about the award. Bowling has been a part of my life for a long time, and I later developed a passion for all the things that happen behind the scenes, especially in working with the youth bowlers. I try to help others every day of my life, and bowling is a big part of that."
Jones, 63, is a lifetime league and tournament bowler, but her service to the sport didn't begin until the 1990s, when she first served as a volunteer and later was recruited to join the local board of directors.
In the years since, she has served on every association committee and was integral in the merger of the local men's and women's associations. Her experience with that project was useful in the merger at the state level, and she has been part of the state board ever since.
During the 2021-2022 season, she is serving as first vice president for the Lubbock USBC, while also serving as president of the Texas State USBC. She also is a Lubbock USBC Hall of Famer.
Jones' first passion, however, is helping youth bowlers, whether it be as a USBC Bronze coach, motivator or even as the organizer of fundraisers to help collect money that ultimately can be used for entry fees, transportation or hotel rooms when they travel to events, such as the Texas State USBC Youth Championships.
The USBC Proprietor of the Year Award annually recognizes a bowling center proprietor for outstanding support of USBC local, state and/or national association programs.
Burns, 77, is the proprietor of Odessa's Diamond Lanes, where he has been a fixture for two decades, first as a manager and then as the owner, beginning in 2012.
As a lifetime bowler, he understands the nuances of the sport and how to cater to the competitive bowling community, while also creating an environment that offers a welcoming and memorable experience for recreational visitors.
Formal competition includes a variety of leagues and tournaments, and Burns has made sure to include a focus on providing opportunities for youth bowlers. He's able to offer them a place to compete, helps provide or raise financial support and offers great insight as a USBC Silver coach.
Prior to taking on the ownership role at Diamond Lanes, Burns traveled around to share his passion for bowling and help train other coaches. He also helped teach bowling to local college students as part of their curriculum.
As an ambassador for the sport and for Odessa, Burns has worked to attract some of the sport's top performers and regional standouts for a variety of Professional Bowlers Association regional and senior events. The tournaments not only give residents and bowling fans the chance to experience some top-tier competition, they also allow the entrants and guests to see all the city has to offer.
Within the local community, Diamond Lanes is a pillar and gathering point for events, parties, fundraisers and more. The facility features 40 lanes.
Burns estimates that the center has been part of the Odessa community for more than 60 years, with a consistent and familiar slogan - "where family fun begins." That's something he wanted to maintain when securing the keys.
"We try to provide an atmosphere that's fun for all families and all calibers of bowlers, and we're always making updates, so we can be modern and keep the environment fresh and entertaining," Burns said. "We have a great working relationship with the local association, and we do a lot with the youth bowlers, but we also host many other events for the schools and local organizations. For us, it's business as usual as part of the community, but to be recognized for it definitely is special and means a lot."
The National Recognition Awards will be presented during the 2022 USBC Convention and Annual Meeting, set for April 25-28 at The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Visit BOWL.com/ScholarshipsAwards for more information on the National Recognition Awards and to learn about past recipients.
Visit BOWL.com/Convention for information about the 2022 USBC Convention.