Walter Ray Williams entered the PBA Hall of Fame in 1995 at the age of 35. The record books would indicate that he has continued to excel in the bowling world since the time of his induction.
“I just feel that I am young yet and that there is a lot more that I have the time to do. It is not like I am ready to give up the game.”
The historical fact belongs to Williams but the quote, perhaps paraphrased, belongs to Steve Kniola when he and I had our first brief chat about his upcoming induction into the LBA Hall of Fame.
Like Williams Steve has a great deal more to accomplish and it will be a joy for his family and legion of friends to watch it happen.
“There was a time when I had an injury to a finger on my bowling hand that I really did not feel that I would have the chance to compete again at the level that I had grown used to. Don Boyed encouraged me to get a house ball at the lanes and work on a more conventional grip.”
It was that initial encouragement of Boyed and the ongoing tutelage of Louie Boughan, who will present Kniola for induction that began his comeback to a game that he loves a great deal.
“I would not have been back in the game if it was not for Don. His encouragement has meant a great deal.”
With the juices again flowing, it was on to working with Boughan a mentor to many within the bowling community. It makes it ever so fitting the he will be doing the presentation of Steve for our highest honor in the bowling community.
“The assist that I have gotten from Louie has been very significant. We had a lot of battles as I did what I needed to do to get back to the level that I desired.”
Shortly before the Lima City Singles last season, it was clear to many that Steve was back to that competitive norm. Few were surprised that he made the great run in that event or that he and his partner Andy Mauch were relevant in the LBA Doubles tourney.
“This sport means so much to me! It has always been a great fit. I mean I never had any vision of ever seeing the Hall of Fame. I simply had a passion for the game it has never been a chore.”
Pushed enough he would tell you that the finger injury was a ‘chore’ as it took him away from a game that he loved. It was noticeable to those that respect him and could see the pain of setting our tourney after tourney. He was blessed to have the chance to watch his very talented wife Kerry compete during that time.
“She has been very supportive as I have battled back and she is looking forward to this Saturday night [9/24] as well.”
The value of family comes easily for Steve. “I was raised by the best parents that anybody could have, Bud and Sue Kniola. They were the ones that got me started in the game, although when I first got into the game it was more about the French fries than the scores!”
It may have been more about the fries than the scores at the beginning but that is not the case now. Kniola has been a dominant performer for quite a while deterred only by the finger injury and Boyed.
“Like I said this is a bowling community and having the chance to enter the Hall of Fame and being on the same level for an evening as Boyed and Boughan and so many others is indeed an honor.”
Clearly, the love and passion that Steve has for the game, has never really left him. “It means so much to be honored by the LBA with this honor. I cannot imagine it not meaning to others what it means to me. To have mom and dad and my brother Dan there will be special. I wish my sister Deanna could have been able to get off of work. It will be a great night.”
It will be a night where others will be honored for their accomplishments for this past season. Jason Moneer will get his just due for A Division Bowler of the Year and Randy DaVinney in the B Division.
Youth bowlers of the year will also get their evening of recognition. Those honors will go to Brayton Businger and Julia Riepenhoff for the 13 and over division.
Kaleb Egri and Joey Brown will share the honor as Future Stars for the youth with Cooper Twining, Ricky Phillips, Isabella Riepenhoff and the oh so charming Emma Skinner taking down the Little Stars honors.
This writer gets to be one proud dad and grandpappy J during the evening’s events as daughter Kari Miller will be honored as Ladies Bowler of the year and her phenom daughter Olivia will be recognized as a future star duplicating the fete of best friends Shelley and Abbey Ambroza from last season.
Golden Pin Honors
I have to give a great deal of praise to Brian Van Meter of Astro Lanes. Brian has several family members and friends that have been in the military or police officers.
The flag and September 11th is still very significant to him as it is to many of us.
He was the host of the PBA Central Regional and it is not customary for the Anthem to be played on the final day. That did not play well with Brian and although it was against the established norm, the events of the day on Sunday led off with all in attendance paying honor to our flag.
Now that is a protest that I can get behind.
Nice job Brian.