By Tony Contini and Aaron Smith
USBC CommunicationsRENO, Nev.
– Phyl Knoll of Hawthorne, California, may be stepping away from competing at the United States Bowling Congress Women’s Championships, but her final appearance this week was one to remember as she joined the tournament’s exclusive 50-Year Club.The 87-year-old right-hander always has loved the sport, and she’s been hooked since her friends invited her to bowl. She began her tournament career at the 1962 event in Phoenix and has made an annual appearance each year since 1971.
To commemorate her 50 years on the lanes, Knoll received a plaque, chevron and necklace Wednesday at the National Bowling Stadium, and the moment was incredibly emotional.
“I had to control myself,” said Knoll, who has visited 34 cities and 24 states throughout her USBC Women’s Championships career. “I started to get a bit teary when I was asked to speak. I’m very humble, and they made such a big issue of it.”
She was compelled to reach this milestone for personal accomplishment and to make her children proud. She wanted to prove to them, no matter what you have on your platter, you can finish everything.
“I just wanted my children to know my tenacity,” Knoll said. “In spite and because of them, I was able to accomplish this. There’s nobody in my life, but them.”
Knoll described the journey as similar to planning a wedding. You don’t think about it every moment, but the special day sneaks up on you. As the landmark approached, it topped her “to complete” list.
As she was sneaking up on her milestone appearance, she also found some success on the championship lanes. Knoll took the lead in Division I Singles at the 1989 Women’s Championships in Bismarck, North Dakota, with a 680 series, eventually placing second.
With her 50th appearance in the books, however, Knoll has decided this will be her last year at the event.
“This is my finale,” Knoll said. “At my home bowling center, my pace is fine, but here, it’s not.”
Knoll was grateful her family was in attendance for her special moment. She wanted to show them what the tournament meant to her each and every year, as well as the one-of-a-kind venue, which includes the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame’s satellite facility.
“I put so much time into bowling,” Knoll said. “I wanted my children to be here, so they would know what we really do. And I wanted them to see the gorgeous hall of fame.”
Knoll earned her own spot in the California USBC Hall of Fame in 2017 for meritorious service.
“I was very humbled when they put me in the hall of fame for meritorious service,” Knoll said. “It was the icing on the cake.”
In her 50th appearance, Knoll rolled scores of 375 in singles, 344 in team and 289 in doubles for a 1,008 all-events total.
Visit us on Facebook at the official USBC Women’s Championships page.