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Roger Owensby Receives Confirmation to be Inducted in WV Bowling Hall of Fame (w/photo)

  • Created
    Thursday, March 05 2009
  • Created by
    Jim Nelson/Media Relations - (304) 327-4103

owensby_roger_2Nearly 50 years ago, Roger Owensby, Jr. picked up a bowling ball for the first time.  Since then, there haven’t been many occasions when he hasn’t had a bowling ball far from his hands.  In a quiet, understated way, Owensby has enjoyed sustained excellence on the lanes while finding time to teach and direct the Mining Engineering Technology program at Bluefield State College.

Recently, he received confirmation that he will be inducted into the West Virginia Bowling Hall of Fame.  The honor encompasses his love and skill in the sport and his experience as an amateur and professional bowler.  “It’s really not something I consciously set out to achieve,” he said recently during a pause between classes at BSC.  “I have always been excited about the opportunity to bowl and I’ve made some great friends and memories while bowling.”

He has rolled six sanctioned perfect games and two three-game series in excess of 800.  One of his 300s was part of an 804 series that led his team to a West Virginia Mixed Team Doubles Tournament championship in 2000.  He and daughter Wendy have won the West Virginia AVCO Family Bowling Tournament, and he’s now a card-carrying member of the Professional Bowlers Association’s Senior Division, competing in a handful of regional PBA Seniors events each year.

He began bowling in downtown Bluefield, then moved to Mountaineer Bowling Lanes on Cumberland Road in the city during the 1960s.  “My father was an avid bowler and he got me started, and I’ve never stopped bowling since,” he commented.

After achieving several local, regional, and state honors, Owensby decided to try out the PBA Seniors tour in 2000.  “I had just turned 52 and I wanted to measure my game against the best,” he recounted.  “There were some regional tournaments within driving distance, so I gave it a try.”

He’s bowled against several PBA Hall of Fame stars, including Mark Roth, George Pappas, and Guppy Troup.  “I’ve finished as high as third place in two events,” he added.  “Once I was beaten by George Pappas and Troup, but it’s hard to feel too bad when the only competitors to beat you are two Hall of Famers.”

Along the way, he’s helped to blaze some trails at Bluefield State College.  “We started a team at BSC in 1982 and, in 1991, we won the Southern Intercollegiate Bowling Conference, beating teams from North Carolina State, North Carolina, Clemson, and Virginia Tech.  “Some of my best memories are from the years with the BSC team,” he said.  In fact, Don Bury (BSC Professor and Department Head/Architectural Engineering Technology) and former BSC bowling
team captain Brian Foy still bowl together on a regular basis.

“In fact, for the past ten summers, we’ve bowled at different houses in the region every Tuesday night,” Owensby said.  “Last summer, Brian and Don began to ask questions about my bowling experiences and they worked with my wife, Pat, to get the information used to nominate me for the state Hall of Fame.”

A Certified Mine Foreman-Fireboss for West Virginia, Owensby is active as a campus organization sponsor and former chair of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration/Southeast Region.  “Bowling has become a useful tool in the classroom,” he added.  “I use bowling analogies to explain rotational dynamics, torque on the ball, converting resting energy to kinetic energy, and friction of the ball on the lane to describe principles of physics.”

Although the sport has changed, Owensby has been able to adapt.  “It used to be that power and accuracy—putting a lot of lift on the ball--were the keys.  Now, it’s accuracy and spin, not lift,” he analyzed.  “The challenge is to be able to adapt as conditions change.”

“Every time I step on the approach, I want to make my best shot,” he said.