Cyber Report #1091

E-dition No. 1,091 • Friday, January 10, 2020

Editor: Bob Johnson (

Promoter Extraordinaire Jim Welch Passes Away

Two-and-a-half days before the new year and new decade arrived, one of bowling’s brightest promotional minds passed away.

Jim Welch’s career in bowling spanned several communities and a handful of companies, although he is perhaps best known for stints in Florida, Las Vegas and the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. At the time of his passing, he was the Director of Competitive Bowling for Bowlero Corporation.

Heartbroken over the passing of Jim Welch, a beloved member of the Bowlero Corp. family, the bowling community, and a dear friend,” said Bowlero’s Colie Edison in a Facebook post. Also the CEO of the PBA, Edison added, “It’s hard to put into words how much he will be missed.”

Like so many bowling executives of the mid- to late-21st century, Welch started at the bottom and worked his way up. Many long-time friends remember his days as a deskman. But having a highly creative mind meant he was destined for higher positions and greater responsibility. Even though he possessed an impressive resumé of league and tournament development, he always seemed to be working on the next great league format or tournament promotion.

Beginning in 1995, Welch began a nearly 11-year stint with Schumacker and Company as he developed tournament formats, oversaw the operation of events, sought sponsors and worked with local convention and visitor bureaus. During that time, he created the website for the Don Carter chain of bowling centers.

Welch owned and operated the Elite Bowlers Tour at approximately the same time, promoting and operating tournaments for competitive bowlers in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Over a 10-year span, EBT events paid out more than $4 million.

Next came a stint in Las Vegas, where he had management positions at the 72-lane bowling center at Sunset Station and then the 56-lane center at Sam’s Town. He helped bring large-scale tournaments to Las Vegas, often working in concert with Las Vegas Events, including the WTBA World and Senior Championships, Junior Gold Championships, Team USA Trials, TNBA Championships and others.

After managing the 64-lane Sparez in Davie, Fla., for a short period, Welch joined the company then known as BowlmorAMF. He was responsible for creating and executing leagues and tournaments at 10 centers in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and also acted as a brand ambassador in that market area.

I first met Jim in 2015 when one of our centers (AMF Garland) was hosting the U.S. Open,” recalled Bowlero Corporation’s Director of League Development, Mike Sledz. “As soon as we met, I knew we would get along. We both had a long history in bowling and shared stories about people we both knew in the industry. The one thing that immediately struck me about Jim was how welcome he made everyone feel. Whether he knew someone for years or was just meeting someone for the first time, people felt comfortable around him.”

Jim was definitely connected,” Sledz added. “I honestly believe he had a phone number for everyone in the bowling industry. And, more importantly, he was respected. He was as honest as the day is long, and he was truly passionate about bowling.”

Among the projects Welch and Sledz worked on together were the Petersen Classic, Bowlero Youth Championships and Bowlero Elite Series.

Since 2003, Welch served as the volunteer tournament director of the Luci Bonneau Mixed Doubles in Houston, which grew from a grass-roots fundraiser for cancer research into an always-sold-out stop on the PBA and PWBA Tours.

One of my worst day’s ever,” said “Luci” founder and 2019 PWBA Hall of Fame inductee Donna Conners in a Facebook post. “To someone I admired and shared so much with, I can’t imagine this world without you in it. We love you Jimmy. RIP.”

A celebration of life will take place on Tuesday (Jan. 7) at 11 a.m. at Interfaith Peace Chapel at the Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, in Dallas.


Diana Zavjalova Joins Storm Pro Staff

Storm Products has announced that Latvia native Diana Zavjalova has joined the company’s Pro Staff.

Zavjalova is a four-time PWBA champion and has earned medals around the world as a 15-time member of Team Latvia.

I’m extremely excited, happy and proud to represent Team Storm in 2020,” Zavjalova said. “I’m looking forward to winning a lot with Storm equipment.”

Zavjalova competed for Webber International University, where she was the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association Rookie of the Year and a two-time second-team collegiate All-American. In 2012, she joined her teammates at the Intercollegiate Team Championships and earned the women’s national title. Two years later, she captured the Intercollegiate Singles Championship title.

Diana is a premium talent who we believe will excel with our product line,” sais Gary Hulsenberg, Vice President of Business Development for Storm. “Her determination will lead to many more career titles and propel her forward in the race for PWBA Player of the Year.”

As a child, Zavjalova had many athletic interests. But as she entered her teen years, her focus shifted to bowling. She has said that she was determined to become the best bowler in the world.

At age 15, Zavjalova began traveling the world as a member of Team Latvia and competed on the European Bowling Tour. She has earned numerous medals for her country, including two gold medals at the 2014 European Women’s Championships, a bronze medal at the 2013 WTBA World Championships, a silver medal at the 2012 WTBA World Singles Championship, and several medals at World Youth competitions.

I’m very excited to add another hard-working athlete to our Team.” Hulsenberg said. “Her dedication to the sport through practice and her commitment to fitness is something that all fans can enjoy following. Her work ethic epitomizes the future of bowling.”

Though the PWBA Tour did not exist after she completed her degree in Sports Business Management at WIU, Zavjalova continued to compete in PBA, USBC and WBT competitions around the world. She earned the USBC Queens title in 2013, and in 2015, when the PWBA returned, she became a full-time touring member

Zavjalova earned her first PWBA title at the Minnesota Open, then added another Queens title in 2017 and the 2018 St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open title. She also has two regional titles.

I’m truly looking forward to many opportunities to connect with fans and represent the brands on and off the lanes.” Zavjalova said.


Bowltech Creates Competitive Bowling Specialist Position

Ramon Hilferink is starting 2020 in a new position within the Bowltech Group: Competitive Bowling Specialist.

Bowltech Group serves Europe’s bowling market as a distributor of consumer and capital equipment products. It has offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and France.

Hilferink, 26, grew up in a bowling center, owned by his family since 1978, in the Netherlands. As he likes to say, he could bowl before he could walk. Hilferink started in his first league by the age of 4, and in ensuing years has been a national champion 14 times in three different countries — the Netherlands, Germany and the United States.

Hilferink graduated from Webber International University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management, and later earned a Master’s in Sports Marketing and Sponsorship at the Johan Cruijff Institute in the Netherlands.

While in college, he earned NAIA and NCBCA All-American honors three consecutive years. He also is an IBPSIA member, PBA member and a USBC Silver-level coach, having gained significant coaching experience at the Kegel Training Center Europe in Tilburg, Netherlands.

In today’s booming entertainment industry in Europe, sport bowling has been put under pressure,” said Hans Krol, CEO of Bowltech Group. “Europe is filling up with more and more family entertainment centers, and many proprietors decide to transform their existing traditional center into a center that meets the requirements of today’s recreational bowler. Bowltech aspires to provide all the means, products and services for all business types in the bowling industry — meaning sport bowling will not be neglected. For this reason, Bowltech has formulated a new position which purely gives focus on these types of centers. We believe this new role will fit Ramon like a glove.”

Hilferink has been working at Bowltech since 2018 in sales, and now will share his knowledge with pro shops and bowling centers — initially in the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) and Germany, with an expectancy to expand throughout Europe. He will advise pro shops during personal visits as well as during training sessions and seminars, and will offer pre-IBPSIA and IBPSIA HOTS courses. For bowling centers, Hilferink will assist and advise in all aspects of lane maintenance, league software and coaching tools.

To help carry out Bowltech’s ambition to serve sport bowling, the company this year will build a new pro shop and training facility at the company’s headquarters, where Hilferink will be based.


Business Briefs…

* Frank Wilkinson is being honored with a Louis R. Miller Leadership Award, which he will receive in the Master Businessperson category. The awards — which are presented by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and the Staten Island Advance — honor the memory of Louis R. Miller, a businessman and West Brighton resident who was also a community leader. While having a thriving business is enough to make him feel proud, Wilkinson goes a step further with a solid volunteer portfolio. On the national level, he served as President of the USBC and a director of the BPAA. Locally, Wilkinson has just been tabbed as President of the North Shore Rotary, served as co-chair of that organization’s annual Celebrity Chef Event, and is the current director and a past president of the Staten Island USBC.

* Plaza Lanes in Highland, Ind., was the scene of a large brawl on the night of New Year’s Eve. Officers from three area police departments responded to the call, and one person reportedly was transported to a local hospital. The center ultimately closed early following the incident. No charges have been filed. Report:

* Plans call for downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., to soon become home to a mixed-use development that targets millennials. Among the amenities being considered are several restaurants, duckpin bowling and a golf simulator. More:

Other News You Can Use…

* Nineteen-time PBA Tour champion Tommy Jones, who will be inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 18, defeated Bowlero league bowler Garrett Shovan of Denver, Colo., 266-200, to win the $100,000 first prize in the final Bowlero Elite Series tournament of 2019 at Bowlero Jupiter in Florida. The third event in the Bowlero Elite Series aired Sunday on NBC. More:

* Phyllis Notaro, a USBC Hall of Fame member from Brant, N.Y., died on Dec. 30. She was 91. Elected to the WIBC Hall of Fame for Superior Performance in 1979, Notaro won the BPAA All-Star Tournament in 1961 and had three other top-10 finishes at the event. She teamed with Jessie Miller to capture the 1966 BPAA National Doubles title. More:

* The Team USA Trials will take place at the Gold Coast Bowling Center in Las Vegas from Jan. 3-7. The week also will include the United States Amateur Bowling Championships. A sold-out men’s field of 175 players and record field of more than 165 female competitors began the first of five qualifying blocks Friday morning. All rounds of competition will be broadcast live at BJI will have full coverage in the February issue of the magazine. More:

* Jason Belmonte has announced he will donate $50 for every strike he throws on television in 2020 — $100 for strikes in championship matches — to the Red Cross in Australia in the wake of the catastrophic wildfires affecting his home country. “I intend to strike a lot,” Belmonte noted.

* The guest this week on Phantom Radio is Larry Lichstein. You can hear how he fares in the program’s ongoing trivia contest by clicking here:

* CONTACT: Please send business news, event information, etc. to Bob Johnson at For breaking business news, visit or, and “Like” Bowling Center Management and Bowlers Journal International on Facebook. BJI Cyber Reports are now archived at Please remember that the Cyber Report is a B-to-B publication and not intended for consumers.

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