March 11, 2021
ARLINGTON, Texas - The recipients of the 2021 United States Bowling Congress National Recognition Awards have been determined by the USBC Board of Directors.
Polly Maples of Knoxville, Tennessee, was selected to receive the Helen Baker Award for Outstanding Association Service, and John Wing of Mundelein, Illinois, is the USBC Proprietor of the Year.
Each year at the USBC Convention, outstanding bowling leaders are honored for their contributions to the sport. This year's recipients, who were selected from submitted applications, will be recognized in April during the virtual 2021 USBC Convention.
This year's ceremony will take place virtually April 28 from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Eastern. A similar presentation will be held at the same time April 27 for award winners from 2020. The 2020 Convention was canceled due to COVID-19.
The USBC Helen Baker Award for Outstanding Association Service is named in honor of the fifth president of the Women's International Bowling Congress.
It annually recognizes an outstanding bowling leader who has made invaluable contributions to local and state associations as an innovator, creator and mentor of
Maples had been a member of the Smoky Mountain USBC and Tennessee State USBC for 45 years and has served a variety of roles for each organization - director, officer and committee chair - and was instrumental in the merger that resulted in the creation of the Smoky Mountain USBC. She also put in nearly two decades as a director for the Tennessee youth association.
Locally, Maples served as the association manager for 29 years and was a committee chair every year for three decades. Her state service includes a stint as the president of the Tennessee State Women's Bowling Association from 1999-2005, and that time frame includes a role as a director for WIBC from 2002-2005.
Her continued dedication to the sport of bowling earned Maples induction into the Smoky Mountain and Tennessee State USBC Halls of Fame for meritorious service, and she became the namesake of the Polly Maples Leadership Award, which is awarded annually at the Smoky Mountain Hall of Fame banquet.
She was the Tennessee Young American Bowling Alliance Volunteer of the Year in 2003 and also has been awarded the Tennessee State Parks and Recreation Volunteer of the Year Award for her participation in the Pigeon Forge Bowling for a Cure campaign, which helped raise more than $100,000 in 12 years.
As a competitor, Maples has logged more than 40 years on the lanes at local, state and national events.
"This award absolutely means so much to me because I knew Helen and who she was, and she was someone we all looked up to," Maples said. "Helen motivated all of us to want to do everything we could for the members. And, to get the call from Melissa (McDaniel) a young woman who has done so many amazing things and gone on to become president of USBC, made it all that much more special."
The USBC Proprietor of the Year Award annually recognizes a bowling center proprietor for his/her outstanding support of USBC local, state and/or national association programs.
Wing, of Mundelein's Lakeside Recreation Center, is esteemed for his dedication to customer service and creating a camaraderie amongst his bowlers, while promoting participation and growth for bowlers of all ages and skill levels.
As the bowling landscape has changed, Wing has used feedback from his customers to make sure his facility offers the best programs, coaching and technology.
He remains focused on the bowling needs of the community, but also has been able to adapt and provide additional entertainment options for families, such as laser tag and electronic games.
The center now includes 24 lanes with automatic scoring, bumper lanes for children, an arcade, laser tag, lounge, video slot machines, a diner and weekly food and drink specials.
As with many aspects of society, the coronavirus pandemic has brought challenges and restrictions, but Wing and his staff have been able to implement the procedures and protocols necessary to provide a clean, safe and comfortable environment for patrons.
Wing also has offered continued support to the Greater Lake County USBC Association and support and flexibility for local youth and high school bowlers.
"I am very honored to be recognized as the USBC Proprietor of the Year," Wing said. "I would like to thank all of the people who have contributed to our success, including my wife, Aileen, and the tremendous staffs at both of our bowling centers. This award comes from those I serve in our bowling community, and I am exceedingly grateful. It is humbling to be added to the prestigious list of previous winners."
Wing previously served a variety of roles with Brunswick, and that's where he learned about running a bowling center and all the things customers find most important.
He and Aileen acquired the first of their two bowling centers, Mockingbird Lanes in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2000 and added Lakeside Recreation Center in 2003.
The Wings have set the highest standards for their venues and staff members and proudly host a well-rounded list of events and fundraisers each year. In 2017, Lakeside earned the local Gold Star Business Award, which was acknowledgement of the center's modernization.
The 2020 winners include Dave Bowers of Cayce, South Carolina (Helen Baker Award for Outstanding Association Service), Teri Haugh of Faribault, Minnesota (Joyce Deitch Unity Award), and JoAnn West of New Braunfels, Texas (USBC Proprietor of the Year).