RENO, Nev. - Marie McAllister of Columbus, Ohio, kicked off her United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships career in 1949 when her mother, Irma Lyons-McCoy, asked her to be by her side on the championship lanes. This week, McAllister took to the lanes at the National Bowling Stadium to make her 50th tournament appearance.
The Columbus Women's Bowling Association Hall of Famer's tournament debut took place in her hometown of Columbus, but she then turned her focus to raising a family. Thirteen years passed before she returned to the lanes for the 1963 event in Memphis, Tenn. She's made it back to the USBC Women's Championships every year but one since and has visited 39 cities and 26 states along the way.
The 90-year-old right-hander marched down Center Aisle alongside her team, Ohio Buckeyes, which featured her granddaughter-in-law Angela Biller and great-granddaughter Brittani Biller. She received a plaque, gold medallion and necklace to commemorate her achievement.
McAllister's dedication to bowling came from Lyons-McCoy, who bowled until she was 98 years old. Lyons-McCoy made 30 Women's Championships appearances of her own.
"She bowled in the national tournament for 30 years with me," said McAllister, who still bowls twice a week at HP Lanes in Columbus. "I wasn't even sure I was bowling in my first tournament until my mom asked me to bowl with her. Every tournament with her was very special."
McAllister was overwhelmed by the support she received from her fellow bowlers at the Stadium on Tuesday and was taken aback by the presentation dedicated to her longevity.
"I thought it was great, and I liked the way we came out last," said McAllister, who became the seventh bowler of the 2012 event to reach the 50-year mark. "I just figured it'd be in the squad room, and they would give me my plaque, and that would be it. It was really nice, and everybody congratulated me. It meant I was among friends. It was so nice that they took the time to do that."
Although she wished she had fared better during her 2012 event, McAllister still enjoys the competitive aspect of the sport.
"When I first started bowling, not to brag, I was a pretty good bowler," she said. "In the 1960s, I had my high game of 279 and high series of 685 and won several tournaments. I bowled in a senior tournament this past week, and I'm in first place in singles, and my partner and I are first in doubles. It's only the first week, so somebody might beat it, but at least my name is on the board this week."
In her 50th appearance, McAllister competed in the Sapphire Division and rolled a 456 series in team, 448 in singles and 444 in doubles for a 1,348 all-events score. All scores include handicap.
The Sapphire Division is for bowlers with an average of 149 and below, with handicap based on 150.
Presenting sponsors for the 2012 USBC Women's Championships are Circus Circus, Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nev. Other sponsors include Harrah's Reno Casino, official brackets sponsor, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Humana, official registration sponsor, Steltronic, official scoring system, and supporting sponsors Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, Sands Regency Casino Hotel and Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa and MyBowlingVacation.com.