Jori Peterson of Rockford, Ill., has been selected to receive the USBC Youth Volunteer of the Year Award by the USBC Youth Committee.
The prestigious award recognizes an adult volunteer who has displayed outstanding efforts to foster, organize and promote certified youth bowling programs at the local, state and/or national levels.
Peterson, 45, is the Mites and Bumper coach for the youth leagues at Don Carter Lanes in Rockford. Her son, James, started bowling when he was four years old and she was asked to be the snack mom and "it all started there."
She volunteered every Saturday morning but took a break when her daughter, Tegan, was three. She would return three years later to coach Bumpers when Tegan wanted to join her brother on the lanes. James now is 19; Tegan is 11.
"This award overwhelms me because I am just a mom supporting her children in a sport that they both love," Peterson said. "I also have my 'bowling children' as part of my family, all of whom I look forward to seeing each and every Saturday morning. Each child has a gift, and it amazes me how much talent they have."
Patti Dole, the youth league coordinator at the center, initially brought Peterson into the program, and also nominated her for the award.
"If I need anything done ... she will shop for me, find deals for me, gives me a shoulder when I need that little boost on a Saturday morning," Dole said in her nomination letter. "She is a volunteer in the truest sense. I know that it takes a lot to keep 16 teams of three- to eight-year-olds happy and in line."
Peterson, who works for United Health Integrated Services as a Provider Service Representative, also volunteered for her son's bowling team when he was in high school. She said the dedication of the high school coaches made her realize "how important it is to be there for all of the children."
She finds it rewarding to work with children that are brand new to bowling and showing them "the magic dot" in the middle of the lane "so they are not playing pinball with the bumpers."
She helped Dole create the Mites League at Don Carter Lanes.
"We have children who are better than the Bumpers, but not quite ready to go to Bantams," Peterson said. "This works well for our program. This way, the children are not intimidated by making the big jump from little people to the huge world of bowling against the big kids."
For being selected as the USBC Youth Volunteer of the Year, Peterson will receive an expenses-paid trip to the USBC Convention in Arlington, where she will be presented with the award.
Go to BOWL.com/scholarships to learn more about youth scholarships and awards.