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Bowling Legacy Continues For Kelly Family 11/12/2015

ARLINGTON, Texas - For Megan Kelly, walking the halls of her parents' house and seeing countless bowling trophies and awards served as the ultimate motivation for her own quest for success on the lanes.

But, the daughter of United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Linda Kelly and senior standout Bob Kelly, seemingly lost the opportunity to bowl as a professional when the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour went on hiatus in 2003.

"I wasn't in a place in my bowling career to compete out there in the 2000s, but nevertheless, when it folded, I was devastated thinking that someday, if and when I would be ready to compete at that level, there wouldn't be anything for me," said Megan Kelly, who lives in Kettering, Ohio. "I knew immediately when they announced the PWBA Tour was coming back, I would go out and compete. There was no question. I practiced as much as I could with a full-time job and a child, and I felt more ready than ever to go bowl."

Megan now has the opportunity to serve as an inspiration for her own daughter, Autumn, who is nearly 2 years old. Both of Autumn's parents, Megan and 2006 USBC Queens champion Shannon Pluhowsky, competed on the PWBA Tour this season.

Autumn recognizes their bowling clothes when they're packing or dressing to compete. She also enjoys bowling when she can, too, but Megan is following her parents' path and won't pressure Autumn to bowl.

"Megan bowled when she was younger, but she lost interest for a few years, partially because she wasn't sure how far she could take it," Linda Kelly said. "When high school bowling became a possibility, I offered to coach, if she was willing to bowl on the team. We saw her talent all along, but we didn't want to push her. We wanted her to pursue it when she was ready."

Linda was a gymnast who later turned her attention to competitive bowling. She set the bar high with 16 PWBA regional titles and a national win at the 1992 PWBA Robby's Open, and she was named PWBA Regional Player of the Decade during the 1990s.

Her resumes includes two years on Team USA, a win at the 1988 QubicaAMF World Cup, four titles and a perfect game at the USBC Women's Championships and induction into the Dayton Women's, Ohio State Women's and USBC Halls of Fame. Megan also found success in a different sport, excelling at golf while in high school. She became the first girl to make the boys team at her school, but bowling was in her genes.

Spending time with her father during his early days on the Professional Bowlers Association's PBA50 Tour, along with time on the lanes with Pluhowsky and other top talent, helped Megan quickly make up for lost time.

"Megan has been fortunate to have some great coaching along the way, and that, along with opportunities to be exposed to talent above what a typical league bowler would experience, really helped her develop," said Linda, the runner-up in this year's Triple Crown Shoot-Out, the finale of the 2015 Senior Triple Crown Series presented by The Orleans. "I am very proud of how she's performed so far, and doing well really has helped her confidence."

Megan, a 31-year-old right-hander, might be new to the professional ranks, but her PWBA career got off to a solid start in 2015 with three cashes and three match play appearances in eight tournaments. Her season also included her first USBC Women's Championships win, a Diamond Team title with Pluhowsky and friends Megan Withey and Brenda Burns.

"This summer was amazing," Megan said. "I'm not sure what I expected bowling on Tour for the first time, but when I made match play in Sacramento, it showed me I was where I was supposed to be. I would be lying if I said I was satisfied with my summer, but I will work even harder this winter having an idea what I need to work on, and next year will be better."

Having Pluhowsky, a 15-time Team USA member who has won at every level of the sport, there to motivate and inspire her has been important in her early success. They push each other when needed and serve as an extra set of eyes during practice and competition.

The two also work together on the management staff at Capri Lanes in Dayton, Ohio, where a supportive group of co-workers makes chasing their dreams possible.

Perhaps one of the most special parts of being from such a competitive and successful family is the constant on- and off- lane support.

"It has been a blessing to have so much family support, from my parents watching over our house, to my dad taking care of our pro shop, to my uncle watching our dog," Megan said. "Shannon's family watches our bowling on Xtra Frame, Shannon's aunt and uncle let us stay at their house for more than a month, and most of all, Shannon's encouraging. They are both valuable and attractive to sponsors and partners. The PBA's mix of exciting players including Hall of Famers, international stars and former collegiate players making their mark in increasingly diverse and prestigious events, plus the continued support of ESPN have the PBA positioned for further growth."

"Megan actually carried the pillow when they presented our Team USA medals to us that first year, and now for Autumn to be so close to the sport and hopefully have similar experiences, is really special," Linda said. "Bowling is something we continue to be able to do as a family, it has allowed us to travel the world and I hope Autumn gets that chance someday, too."

Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine.

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