ADDISON, Ill. – The Professional Women’s Bowling Association added two new classes of inductees to its hall of fame Wednesday night at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook hotel.
The 2020 class began the festivities, as Pam Buckner of Reno, Nevada, and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of Keller, Texas, were inducted in the Performance category. Australia’s Carol Gianotti also was elected in Performance as part of the 2020 class, but she will defer her acceptance until 2023.
The 2022 class featured Kim Adler of Cocoa Beach, Florida, and Kim Terrell-Kearney of Greensboro, North Carolina, in the Performance category, with Joan Romeo of Las Vegas being inducted in the Meritorious/Builder category.
The 2020 induction ceremony was pushed back to 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the 2020 PWBA Tour season. There was no elected class in 2021.
Buckner, 75, of Reno, Nevada, won her first PWBA Tour title at the 1975 PWBA Championships, and she picked up her second major championship at the 1976 United States Bowling Congress Queens. She won seven PWBA titles between 1975 and 1980.
Along with her two major titles, Buckner owns nine career PWBA 300 games and four PWBA 800 series awards. On Aug. 26, 1979, Buckner tossed 30 consecutive strikes during qualifying at a PWBA event in Rochester Hills, Michigan. The run featured back-to-back 300 games, making her the first woman to roll consecutive perfect games.
“‘It’s the highest honor, honest to God,” Buckner said. “I just feel totally honored. To receive this as an athlete, it’s the highest honor anybody could have. You work constantly all the time to be the best that you can be, and my career has lasted quite a while. I’ve had to change my game. I’ve had to change things in my game in order to remain competitive.
“Even though I’m older, I’m not going to be competitive with the 20-year-olds today, but I can still compete with the seniors, and I really believe I can do that even though I have to compete with some seniors now that are 25 years younger than me. But to me, it’s the ultimate honor, and I truly am honored they elected me to the hall of fame.”
Buckner also was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame in 1990.
Dorin-Ballard, 57, of Keller, Texas, captured 20 PWBA Tour titles from 1991 through 2003, including the 2001 USBC Queens. She was the 2001 PWBA Player of the Year after winning a record-tying seven titles (Patty Costello, 1976). She tied or broke 11 PWBA records that season, setting the record for most TV appearances in a season with 18.
She’s tied for seventh on the tour’s all-time title list with 2019 PWBA Hall of Fame inductee Wendy Macpherson.
“It’s just overwhelming and humbling,” Dorin-Ballard said. “I just can’t believe I got there. It’s kind of like winning the Queens or any type of tournament. I just can’t believe I did it, and I would have never thought I would have had the credentials to get into the PWBA Hall of Fame. I mean, that’s just the epitome of women’s bowling. And I guess somebody was watching out for me and thought it was my destiny, but it’s an extreme honor.
“And I feel so much better now that my speech is over. I cried like five times today, walking through my speech and talking to my sister about it. So, when I got up there, I just looked out and I went, ‘Oh my God, I’m standing here. I don’t believe it.’ I hope it’s inspiring for the younger generation, and it’s a goal fulfilled that I didn’t know I would be able to accomplish.”
In 2001 and 2003, she led the PWBA in earnings and average and was named the International Bowling Media Association Female Bowler of the Year.
Dorin-Ballard was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame in 2008.
Terrell-Kearney, 56, of Greensboro, North Carolina, is a 10-time PWBA Tour titlist and three-time major champion.
She was named the 1989 PWBA Rookie of the Year and won her first title in 1990. Her first major victory came at the 2001 U.S. Women’s Open, and she collected a second green jacket at the 2008 event. She is the 2002 Queens champion, and now the first Black woman to earn induction into the PWBA Hall of Fame.
“I am humbled. I am honored,” Terrell-Kearney said. “I felt like 10 was the magic number when I was active, and I said I probably should get to 10 if you want to see anything later. It’s always been hard for me to sometimes believe that I belong in the company of Carolyn (Dorin-Ballard) and Leanne (Hulsenberg) and Lisa (Wagner), those that did really amazing things.
“So, it’s taken a minute for me to fully digest and recognize that it was a career to be proud of. It’s a pretty special night. And, you know, I think it’ll probably sink in a little bit later, although it has more and more as we’ve gotten closer to tonight.”
Terrell-Kearney has turned her attention to coaching in recent years and is in her second stint as part of the Team USA coaching program. She also is the head women’s bowling coach at North Carolina A&T State University.
The three-time Robby Sportsmanship Award winner was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame for Superior Performance in 2010.
Adler, 54, of Cocoa Beach, Florida, collected 15 PWBA Tour titles from 1993 through 2002, including three major championships.
The 1991 PWBA Rookie of the Year captured her first major at the 1996 Hammer Players Championship, and she followed with additional major wins at the 1997 Sam’s Town Invitational and 1999 U.S. Women’s Open.
“You know, when you’re in the midst of competing, you always ask is it worth it during the time that you’re competing,” Adler said. “I guess I can now reflect back and think that bowling was everything for me. Even though I’m not in bowling anymore, it helped me to get to the place that I’m at now, which is a very good place, and that means everything to me.”
Adler consistently found her way to the winner’s circle on tour, capturing two titles in each season from 1995 through 2000.
She was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame for Superior Performance in 2016.
Romeo, 89, of Las Vegas, has served countless roles in the bowling industry to help grow the sport and been recognized for her dedication through numerous awards, but her work on behalf of professional women’s bowling has left a lasting legacy.
She diligently worked to secure sponsorships and promote events throughout the years, and her fundraising efforts helped to create an exhibit to recognize professional women’s bowling at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, part of the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas.
“Would you like to know that I think this was a miracle,” Romeo said. “To be inducted into one hall of fame was great enough, but now two, and to be there alongside my daughter is amazing. I think my biggest accomplishment was not only getting the money for the PWBA room, but also creating the Extravaganza, because that raised money every time it ran. And not just little money, good money.”
In addition to her dedication to professional women’s bowling, Romeo’s work within the industry included supporting the International Bowling Media Association, World Bowling (now International Bowling Federation), International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, California Bowling Writers and the Team USA program.
Romeo now joins her daughter, Robin, in both the PWBA and USBC Halls of Fame.
Joan Romeo was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame for Meritorious Service in 2016, while Robin Romeo was elected to the USBC Hall of Fame for Superior Performance in 1995 and PWBA Hall of Fame for Performance in 1996.
They will join Doris Coburn and Cindy Coburn-Carroll as the only mother-and-daughter duos to be inducted into both halls of fame.
Nominees in the PWBA Performance category must be at least 50 years of age and have a minimum of 10 PWBA Tour titles or a minimum of five PWBA Tour titles, including two majors.
The inaugural PWBA Hall of Fame class in 1995 included Donna Adamek, Patty Costello, Dorothy Fothergill, Mildred Ignizio, Marion Ladewig and Betty Morris in the Performance category, LaVerne Carter, Helen Duvall and Shirley Garms in Pioneer, and Georgia Veatch in the Builder category.
With the 2020 and 2022 class, there are 44 members of the PWBA Hall of Fame – 26 in Performance, 10 in Pioneer and eight in Meritorious Service/Builder.