Lucas sets milestone

STEUBENVILLE – Much like the Energizer Bunny, Lois M. Lucas just keeps going and going.

Lucas, now 89, just went to her 50th Ohio USBC Women’s Bowling Association Championship Tournament. The city resident is believed to be the first woman bowler from the area to record such an accomplishment.

“As far as I know, our organization has never had a 50 year award winner,” said Mel Svec, president of the Steubenville USBC/WBA. “I think what Lois has accomplished is fantastic. Her dedication to the sport is unbelievable.

“She goes every week to bowl in a league then takes the trip to bowl in the state event, which moves around every year.

“That takes great dedication and at her age, it’s definitely a big deal.”

Lucas was honored for her achievement at the 2013 event, held during May in Toledo. She has been affiliated with the Steubenville association, which has roughly 265 members but once was 1,800 strong, for more than 60 years.

“When I went to my first state tournament in 1947 (that event was held in Akron), I told the women I was with, I’d like to go back and see how many years I could participate,” Lucas reflected. “Then I started wishing, hoping and praying that I could make 50. When I found out I was close, reaching 50 became my goal.”

Over the years, Lucas, who is a member of the National 600 Bowling Club, has visited just about every corner of the state from Cincinnati to Cleveland to Columbus and Akron.

“Going to the state event has allowed me to meet people from all over the state,” she noted. “I still get cards and letters from friends I have made.

“This year, everyone was asked to be quiet and there was an announcement regarding a special presentation. Then I was asked to go up onto the lanes to receive my 50 year award. In all my years of attending, I’ve never seen anyone get a 50-year plaque.”

Lucas and her M&M Hardware teammates (Alicia Vincent, Lorie Taylor, Mary Ann Marshall and Lisa Marshall) placed 51st in the Ohio tournament. She remembers one team placing as high as third in the event. Her current team competes in the Tuesday Interstate League at Toronto Lanes.

“I certainly want to thank all my bowling partners over the years and want to especially thank M&M Hardware for being my team sponsor for more than 25 years,” Lucas added. “I also want to thank M&M for helping me to achieve my goal.”

The veteran bowler has four children (Jim of California, Ron of Steubenville, Candy of Massachusetts and Diane of Steubenville), nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Her first bowling experience came in 1940 during a physical education class at Steubenville High School. At that time, the basement of the former YMCA on North Fourth Street housed duck pin lanes in the basement.

Her league bowling career began at the former Palace Lanes on Adams Street in Steubenville. She also bowled at the Garson Lanes in Amsterdam as well as the former Hollywood and Sunset facilities in the city. She was a regular at the All-American Lanes for more than 20 years.

“I got involved with league bowling because I enjoyed it and it was an evening out,” said Lucas, who sports a 145 average but once averaged 165 a game. “Ever since then, I’ve just kept bowling and bowling. I missed some state tournaments because I couldn’t get a team to go.

“I really want to keep bowling as long as I can. I enjoy it and I enjoy being with my teammates. Some people have asked me if I was going to quit now that I have my 50-year award, but I want to keep on going.”

Lucas, who now uses a 10 pound ball but started out rolling one weighing 16 pounds, admits “bowling just keeps me going. I feel like if I am bowling, I’m getting some good exercise. My kids tell me not to quit so I just keep on bowling. I really enjoy it.”

The award winner noted she’d like to see more bowlers in the area, particularly younger ones.

“I’ve told my grandchildren to go ahead and try bowling because they will enjoy it,” she said. “They don’t want to make the commitment to bowl every week. Young people just don’t seem to go for bowling.

“I’ve also tried to reach out to former bowlers and ask them to bowl again. At the state tournament, I see a lot of younger people and I tell them if I can go for 50 years, I’m sure you can too.”

Lucas, who also enjoys playing cards and working around her home, says she just “doesn’t understand why Steubenville no longer has a bowling alley.”

“We should have one. Now everyone has to go out of town. Maybe if we had one here, more young people would get involved.”

If everything goes according to plan, Lucas will be attending her 51st state event in 2014.

“I do want to keep going as long as I can,” she indicated. “The girls I bowl with now told me I’m not allowed to stop. They told me even if I’m in a wheelchair, they’ll wheel me up to the foul line if they have to.”