Ebonite Embarks on Youth Bowling Initiative
As part of its ongoing efforts to support the development of bowling, Ebonite has put its full resources and sponsorship dollars behind two very worthwhile youth bowling programs, Teen Masters and the Junior Bowlers Tour (JBT). In addition, the company just recently announced its sponsorship of the brand new men’s and women’s bowling programs at Webber International University in Florida.
“Youth are the foundation of our sport. If, as an industry, we are going to rebuild the core of our business, it has to start with the kids,” said Ed Gallagher, Ebonite brand manager. “We have the opportunity to reach thousands of young bowlers and their families and hopefully help them on their way in bowling not only by introducing them to products that can improve their scores but also to provide competitive bowling environments that lead to scholarships.
“Our new relationship as the official equipment sponsor for Webber is an extension of our youth initiative as collegiate bowling is the next natural step for bowlers coming out of Teen Masters and JBT.”
About Teen Masters
The Teen Masters is the creation of Killer ‘B’ Promotions. Founded in 1997, the Teen Masters consists of 50 regional events that culminate in a national championship competition. In 2007, more than 2,000 young people bowled in a Teen Masters regional event with 375 proceeding to the national tournament in Las Vegas (which incidentally would have reached capacity at 382 players).
“This event is more than about just bowling. We have awarded over $600,000 in college scholarship money over the past decade through the Teen Masters,” said Gary Beck of Killer ‘B’ Promotions. “Our stated objective for 2008 is to be able to award a full four-year scholarship to a young person on national television. It is a huge boost toward that goal to have the support of a company like Ebonite.”
As a sponsor, Ebonite has had a presence at all of the regional and national events. The brand donated products to encourage participation at the regional level and the national finals this July included the Ebonite Bowl to Win!® Showdown, a unique competition during which every bowler used one identical (same model) Ebonite ball, laid out and drilled on-site by Ebonite’s expert technicians. Using the Playmaker, Thea Aspiras from Chesapeake, VA, and Joseph May from Palm Harbor, FL, bowled a 2621 and 2780, respectively, and took home the title and $2,000 each in SMART scholarships.
About Junior Bowlers Tour
JBT was formed in 1975 by Chuck Pezzano, Jr. as an avenue for competitive opportunities for bowlers after junior bowling beyond just leagues. Chuck is the son of PBA charter member, Chuck Pezzano, Sr., and the JBT format was patterned much like the PBA. The organization held its first tournament on November 1, 1975 with 71 bowlers participating in that inaugural event. Although it was primarily an east coast group, the southwest/western portion of the JBT was started in 1996. Today, more than 100 JBT events with bowlers 21 and under are held each year with 50-100 kids at each smaller event and upwards of 200 at the major competitions.
“Our combined groups have provided almost $2 million in scholarships since 1989 when the scholarship portion of the JBT first began,” said Pezzano, Jr. “Thanks to the support of Ebonite and others, the JBT awarded almost $500,000 this year alone. Bowlers who win a JBT event and are throwing Ebonite equipment have the added bonus of $100 in additional scholarships to their winnings.
“Our bowlers appreciate Ebonite’s support. They won’t forget that Ebonite reached out to them when they were young and they are always anxious to win Ebonite products at our events. These kids are the customers of the future but they are also today’s customers for pro shops. They are saving their money and buying product and building their ball arsenals.”
Professional bowling stars like Patrick Allen, Bill O’Neill, Sean Rash and Rhino Page have all come up through the ranks of JBT, including Ed Gallagher.
Gallagher added, “I see so much value in these organizations, including drawing from my own personal experiences with JBT. Any time you can enhance the bowling experience for a child, you’ve made a positive impact that will translate to future reward and growth for the sport.”
Jeff Hemer, the JBT tournament director on the west coast who also bowled with JBT as a child, shared, “We wanted to create an environment were kids were excited about bowling. We want them to tell their friends what they did this summer out on the lanes and they earned scholarships at the same time. That’s what we’ve done and with much success as our tournament participation continues to grow.”
About Webber International University
Primarily a business degree focused school in Babson Park, FL, Webber International University is about to embark on its first year of competitive bowling. Having received confirmation from NAIA this spring, the school responded with additional budget and scholarships to create both a collegiate men’s and women’s team. Members of the team will have the unique opportunity to be coached by coaches from the Kegel Training Center and to train at the company’s world-renowned facility. Silver-certified coach and head coach of the teams, Joe Slowinski, says they are honored to partner with Ebonite.
“Ebonite shares our passion for youth and their sponsorship will help us be our best,” Slowinski said. “They are an industry leader in equipment and Kegel is an industry leader in coaching. It’s the perfect marriage.”
Members of the team are expected to come from across the globe, including Puerto Rico and Australia.