Former Tampa resident, World Cup winner and Team USA standout Lucy Giovinco once said, "Where else can you pay $5 and travel the world, all expenses paid?"
Giovinco was referring to Team USA qualifying in the 1980s and '90s when she was a successful member of that elite American squad. Dixie Hollins High graduate Sue Holton, a multi-medal-winning member of the first Team USA in 1987, preceded Giovinco by three years.
Giovinco is now Lucy Giovinco-Sandelin, married and living in Norcross, Ga., and still active in Team USA functions.
Since those early days, hundreds of men and women from the United States, Canada, Alaska and the American dominions have formed each year's squad, representing the United States from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, from Berlin to Egypt, and from Sweden to Australia.
Each year, the team competes in the U.S. Olympic Festival, the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) World Championships, the FIQ American Zone championships, the Pan American Games and a dozen other international events.
The entry fee for qualifying is up from $5 to $10, but every competitor has the same opportunity as Giovinco and Holton if they qualify through state and national competition. The state tournament is at Seminole Lanes July 22-23 and the national finals are next December at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., where the top eight men and women finishers will make up Team USA for 2001.
State winners receive air fare to and hotel accommodations in Reno, and others who advance get paid hotel rooms.
Seminole's Bill Zuben, a Team USA qualifier several years ago until an injury forced him out of competition, is the state Team USA coordinator.
"Anyone can run a qualifying event at any house," Zuben said. "You need at least six bowlers paying $10 each who bowl three games scratch. The games can be in league or tournament play, ABC, WIBC or YABA sanctioned, male or female. Based on number of entries, the top local qualifiers move on to state competition."
St. Petersburg Bowling Association Hall of Fame member Darryl Dempsey, Frank Czarnecki, Mike Lamont and Bobby Atha have qualified for state through competition in the men's city tournament. Brent Dewar and Matt Correa qualified through play in the National Classic Bowlers Association Men's Classic. Last year, Tim Ruth, Mike LaBranche, Larry Roesler and Sandy Lehman competed at state.
If a competitor does not qualify at the local level, he or she may buy into the state tournament for $100. Non-qualifiers at the state tournament may buy into the national finals for $250, or, if they do not bowl in the state event, for $350. The buy-in was adopted three years ago after entries at local and state levels fell drastically.
Current Team USA members include John Gaines, a three-time team member from Sebring, and Jeremy Sonnenfeld of Sioux Falls, S.D., the first man to roll a sanctioned 900 series.
For more information, contact Zuben at 392-2271 or 397-5275.
LOCALS SHUT OUT: Young competitors from Pinellas County were shut out from first place in the Youth Bowlers Tour of Florida's tournament May 7 at Tampa's Crown Lanes.
Largo's Steve Bunday finished third behind Fort Myers' Lauren Mathews in the C Handicap Division with a 1,560 pinfall and earned $100 in scholarship money. St. Petersburg's Kristie Petravich was fifth.
St. Petersburg's David Krutzler also finished third in the B Handicap Division with a 1,553 pinfall and also earned $100. Orlando's Kenny Rambo won with a 1,739 total and earned $400. Largo's Donald Clark was 11th.
Tony Russo of St. Petersburg was fourth in the AA Scratch Division with a 1,587 total, good for $50. Jackie Redford of Brooksville won with a 1,666 pinfall. Tampa's Jason Mersch won the A Scratch Division with a 1,603.
NABI WINNERS: Doug Cass, Norm Terry and Warren Farren were NABI tournament champions the past three weeks at Largo, Seminole and Sunshine lanes respectively.
Cass, of Sarasota, defeated Clearwater's Rick Laufer 245-219 to win his first championship and $215. He earned an additional $125 by winning the new Platinum Division for higher-average bowlers.
Terry defeated Larry Townsend 193-166 for his first NABI title and $325. Both are from St. Petersburg. Tampa's Gene Piaskowski won the Platinum title.
Farren, of Tarpon Springs, stopped Clearwater's Frank Ballou 189-182, also for his first title and $300. St. Petersburg's Bob Kenner won the Platinum title.
NABI returns to action May 27-28 at AMF Clearwater Lanes.
BOWLING VILLAGE FAILS: For the second consecutive year, a bill to help finance a proposed World Bowling Village near Disney World failed in the Legislature when time ran out as the House was considering the bill.
The ABC/WIBC/YABA and Bowling Inc. have expressed a desire to move their Greendale, Wis., headquarters to the new site.
Rick Bourgeois, chairman of the Bowling Inc. facilities task force, said it has forwarded a number of options to the Bowling Inc. board of directors to consider at their July meeting.
AROUND THE LANES: Adam Washburn fired a 300-797 and Scotty Gormley broke the 800 mark with an 809 series at Countryside Lanes. Other high scores: Tony Madden 290-735 and Mike LaBranche 290-737 at Seminole Lanes; Bill Henry 300-738 and Brett Frisse 299-759 at Ten Pin Lanes; David Pedro 300 and Rick Ikes and Don Colvin 299 games at Liberty Lanes. Lisa Wagner, the women's pro tour Bowler of the Decade for the 1980s, was inducted into the WIBC Hall of Fame along with five others. Wagner has moved from Bradenton to Fort Myers.
_ Phil Gulick can be reached at Xerxes6aol.com or Xerxes6earthlink.net