2023 ---- Roger Thomas

Roger Thomas has spent most of his life involved in the business of bowling.

Roger was drafted in 1971 when he joined the Air Force. He served 4 years with a tour of Viet Nam and was in security. He re-enlisted in 1975 and moved into recreation. He was transferred to Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana in 1977, where he was placed in the Grissom bowling lanes, where his venture into bowling world began.

While at Grissom, Roger worked with the AMF representative learning the trade of machine maintenance. He traveled the area observing to learn and increase his skills about pin-setters.

After leaving the Air Force Roger took a position with AMF in Columbus, Ohio as a service representative. He worked with AMF until 1982 when they closed their service department. He then went ot work for Joe McCloskey servicing bowling equipment from Arizona to New Hampshire. There are not many brands of bowling equipment that Roger has not worked with. We believe Roger Thomas is a true friend of bowling because for his many years of service and with his wealth of knowledge, he has taken the time to “teach” mechanics and bowling proprietors to fix their problems. He is always willing to answer the phone and trouble shoot problems for his fellow proprietors. Roger D. Thomas personifies the meaning of a true “Friend of Ohio Bowling”!

2022 ---- Jeff Fleck

In 2005, Jeff Fleck was instrumental in the creation of the Wright State Bowling program in Dayton, Ohio.  He served as co-head coach until 2012 at which time Jeff became the sole head coach, a position he still holds today. 

During his tenure with the Wright State program, Jeff has earned numerous collegiate coaching awards.  Jeff is a six-time recipient of the CTBCA (Club Team Bowling Coaches Association) Larry Wilson Women’s Club Coach of the Year.  In 2016, Jeff was named the NCBCA (National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association) Kerm Helmer Women’s Coach of the Year and received the Katherine W Morris Award from WSU in recognition of his outstanding contributions within the student union.  He received the 2019-2020 NCBCA Gordon Teigen Meritorious Service Award for contributions at the national collegiate bowling level.

In addition to his accolades received, Jeff has led the Wright State Women’s team to 7 USBC National events, finishing 3rd in the country in 2013.  The club finished first in the National Collegiate Club Championship in 2015 and 2019 and were runners up in 2014 and 2016.

Jeff has recently celebrated the success of the program as the Women’s Wright State Bowling Team was elevated to NCAA D1 varsity status earlier this year.

In addition to his (mostly volunteer) work with the Raiders, Jeff has also been a successful coach at the High School level.  He is a tournament director for high school and collegiate tournaments in the Dayton area.  Jeff has also served on the Greater Dayton USBC Board of Directors from 2007 through 2012 where he remains on the Hall of Fame Committee.  Jeff was elected to the GDUSBC Hall of Fame for Superior Performance in 2009.

Tonight, we add the name Jeff Fleck to the Ohio Bowling Hall of Fame in the Friend of Bowling Category.


2022 ---- Victor Unterbrink

Bowling came to Ohio is the late 1800’s, brought in by the Germans and Dutch.  In 1939 Victor Unterbrink built a modern four lane establishment in Ottawa-, Ottawa Recreation, in what had been a former livery stable.  While managing the lanes “Vic” perfected a number of patents and innovations for the maintenance of bowling lanes.  He patented a lacquer applicator that would finish (paint) the lane in 3 minutes versus the 2 tedious house of brush painting by hand.  He trademarked the name Lino-Plastic for the finish. He also formulated his own lane dressing and soon developed a dusting device to clean the lanes called the Lino-Duster.

On April Fool’s Day in 1946 Ottawa lost it’s fine bowling center to the largest fire in Ottawa’s history.  Wartime building restrictions were still in place thus preventing rebuilding.  Unstoppable with innovation, Victor’s next project was to manufacture bowling pins. With maple lumber running in short supply, Victor developed and patented one of the first laminated maple pins with central holes to keep the weight down.  To prevent wear around the center of the pin he developed a fiberglass coating in cooperation with Owens Corning.

In all Victor had a hand in developing 5 patents that have helped make bowling what it is today.  Bowling lost one of its’ true pioneers in 1963, when at the age of 63, Victor passed away.  He left a legacy of inventions and techniques still in use today.

Victoy Unterrink is being posthumously honored tonight for all of his contributions to the sport.  He was truly a FRIEND OF OHIO BOWLING!

2021 ---- Debbie Juniewicz

How do you write an article about writer?  Especially someone who has been a bowling columnist since 1962.  Debbie Juniewicz has a weekly column in the Dayton Daily News where she does a column on bowling and Get Active.  She also covers tennis, wrestling, swimming, volleyball, field hockey and gymnastics.  She has been a freelance writer for B2b, Dayton Valley Voice, ALIVE magazine, Toledo Blade, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal and various University of Dayton magazines.

Debbie is very effective with pen, notebook, laptop – and most of all talent!  Debbie is a Cleveland native and received her Bachelor’s (1990) and Master’s (1995) in communication from the University of Dayton.

Debbie is a 2-time recipient of the BCAO’s Sam Levine Award (1996 and 2013).  Her other honors are too numerous to list but here are a few highlights:

Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame – 2018

Miami Valley Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame-Meritorious Service – 2017

Gr. Dayton USBC Bowling Association Service Award – 2008    

National Women Bowling Writers Award – 2002

Muscular Distrophy Association Appreciate Award – 2000

Gr. Miami Valley Wrestling Association Reporter of Year (3 yrs) – 1995-97

Tonight Debbie Juniewicz is being recognized for all of her contributions to the sport we all love by being inducted into the Ohio Bowling Hall of Fame as the 2021 Friend of Ohio Bowling.

2020 ---- John Fabanich

History does not list who invented the bowling ball, but it might as well list John Fabanich of Lorain as the man who perfected it.

John converted his basement into a sort of lab, which his wife jokingly referred to as “the Dungeon” the proceeded to develop his equipment. Back in 1965 they were looking to design a ball to assist in driving out the five pin on a pocket hit. By using a three-piece ball design with a retractable center weight block, Fabanich, working with Charles Linden (also an Ohio Bowling Hall of Fame member), did just that. Then in 1968 came the revolutionary change into the first two-piece ball. The ball was made of 74 hardness polyester shell with a unique center located weight block. And this the “Faball” was born.

In the fall of 1982, the “Faball” was now a urethane ball which was bought out by a company in St. Louis. They sent 24 of the urethane “Faballs” to the 1982 World Open. By the following year, the “Faball” – now known as the “Hammer” would become the majority choice among professionals.

The importance of the development of new bowling ball technology that today’s bowlers know, are the direct result of the “Faball” and the ingenuity of John Fabanich. His contribution to the sport of bowling as we know it today merits the name of John Fabanich for enshrinement in the Ohio Bowling Hall of Fame as an outstanding Friend of Ohio Bowling.

Share This