LAS VEGAS – Three members of the 2023 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Hall of Fame class and a belated member from 2020 were celebrated during their induction ceremony Wednesday at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall.
Cheryl Daniels of Detroit and Carol Gianotti of Australia were elected to the PWBA Hall of Fame in the Performance category, and Paula Carter of Miami was elected as an Ambassador. Mary Bundrick of Chicago was inducted posthumously through Meritorious Service/Builder.
All four inductees were represented at the ceremony on Wednesday with Daniels, Gianotti and Carter attending in person while Bundrick’s induction was celebrated by members of her family.
Gianotti was elected to the PWBA Hall of Fame in 2020, but this year was the first opportunity she’s had to attend the induction ceremony since that time.
Daniels has won 10 PWBA Tour titles and owns one major victory at the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open.
She collected her first victory at the 1989 Ebonite Firebolt Classic, which kicked off a four-win season for the talented right-hander. Daniels also collected multiple titles during the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Her last win came in 1996 at the Rossford Golden Triangle Open.
In addition to her win at the U.S. Women’s Open, she has recorded nine other top-five finishes at majors and was inducted to the USBC Hall of Fame in 2002 for Superior Performance. She’s also a member of the Michigan State USBC and Metro Detroit USBC Halls of Fame.
But for all the accomplishments that she recorded over the course of her career, what Daniels remembers and values most are the relationships that she was able to forge while bowling on tour.
“The thing I cherish most is how many wonderful people I met,” Daniels said. “I met so many fans and terrific people while traveling all over the United States and abroad. I value so many of the fans and friends that I met along the way. We had a great time, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
Daniels got to see firsthand just how special those interactions were to the fans and friends she shared them with as well, and that is something else that she thinks of fondly when reminiscing about her PWBA career.
“For some people, just meeting a lady pro really made it for them,” Daniels said. “You don’t always realize the impact that you have, but people really appreciate women, bowlers and athletes in their sport. It was an incredible feeling to know that I met so many amazing people who just love bowling so much.”
Gianotti certainly loves it.
She became a major champion at age 21, capturing her first professional title at the 1989 USBC Queens. The Perth, Australia, native would claim 16 PWBA titles from 1989 through 2000, adding her second major title at the 1996 Sam’s Town Invitational.
She won a career-best four titles during the 1992 season, which helped her earn Quit Australian Sportswoman of the Year honors in 1992 and 1993. In 1998, she won two titles and was named PWBA Player of the Year after leading the PWBA in earnings and average.
Gianotti also was named the 1998 International Bowling Media Association Female Bowler of the Year and 1998 Bowling Digest Female Pro Bowler of the Year.
Gianotti was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame in 2011 for Superior Performance.
Considering all that she accomplished, it’s hard to imagine the PWBA Tour of the 1990s without Gianotti; nevertheless, had it not been for the encouragement of a fellow bowler and friend, Gianotti may never have had the courage to leave Australia to take a run at tour life.
“It started when Wendy (Macpherson) told me that I should come to the States and try to compete over here,” Gianotti said. “I made the decision when I was 19; it was a big move, and it was scary. I didn’t know how it would turn out, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
And that decision set the stage for what would become a Hall of Fame career.
Gianotti is humbled when she thinks of all that she accomplished; nevertheless, like Daniels, Gianotti remembers the people and friendships as much or more than she remembers the trophies and checks.
“Everyone’s goal is to try to win one or two titles, so to win 10 and then get all the way up to 16, that’s a lot of titles,” Gianotti said. “I love bowling; I love the competitiveness, but it’s the people, the friends and the laughs that mean the most. I just think it’s amazing.”
What was equally amazing was how Carter managed to not only focus on her own career, but also to put so much time and effort into helping to promote the sport of bowling as a whole.
Carter is a two-time winner at the U.S. Women’s Open. The left-hander captured the prestigious victory at the 1971 and 1975 events.
Her performance during the 1971 season helped her earn recognition as the IBMA Bowler of the Year and a spot on the All-America team for Bowlers Journal International (1970-1971).
She promoted the sport through several national television appearances during the 1970s, helping bring professional women’s bowling to a new audience, and in 2011, Carter received the Flowers for the Living Award. She was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame for Superior Performance in 1994 and also is a member of the Greater Miami USBC, Florida State USBC and Florida Sports Halls of Fame.
But for all that she accomplished as a competitor, for Carter, it was always more about what she could do to grow the sport.
“After I had some success, they would send me to newspapers. I remember one time I went to the New York Times, and they put me on top of a desk and had me pretend I was bowling. That was picked up by something like 200 papers,” Carter said. “When I did those kinds of things, I knew the word was getting out about bowling. I loved that; it’s all I ever wanted.”
Carter’s willingness to make the good of the sport a higher priority than her own personal accolades is probably what she is best known for, and it’s very close to the top of the list of what she’s proudest of regarding her induction.
“I was honored to be accepted into the Hall of Fame under the category of Ambassador,” Carter said. “There are hundreds of bowlers, but how many ambassadors are there? I thought it was special to be one of the people who made the sport better, go forward and get bigger as opposed to just being a bowler. That wasn’t the part for me. The part for me was getting other people to love the sport as much as I did.”
But Carter may never have had the opportunity to grow the sport through the PWBA Tour if it weren’t for Bundrick.
Bundrick, who died in 2001 at the age of 89, played a major role in the creation of the PWBA and served as the organization’s first president from 1959-1963.
While serving as the executive director of the Les Dames De 700 Bowling Club in the late 1950s, Bundrick looked at the formation of the Professional Bowlers Association in 1958 and hoped to bring together a similar program to showcase the top female athletes in the sport.
She hired Georgia Veatch (PWBA and USBC Hall of Famer) to serve as executive director for the new organization and invited eight prominent female bowlers to a meeting that helped set the stage for the creation of the PWBA. At the conclusion of the meeting, rules, regulations and a constitution had been approved and 23 women were made charter members of the organization.
“Many people thought that Georgia Veatch started the PWBA when the truth is that she was its first executive secretary; she was hired by Mary Bundrick,” USBC Hall of Famer Fran Deken said. “Mary Bundrick started the PWBA.
“When we learned this, we knew that Mary Bundrick deserved to be in the Hall of Fame just as Georgia Veatch already was. We felt that Mary Bundrick’s exclusion was an oversight that needed to be corrected, and we got the job done and got her elected as she should’ve been as the founder of the PWBA.”
If it weren’t for Bundrick’s initiative, the PWBA Tour may never have come to fruition, and the best women’s bowlers in the world may never have had a consistent opportunity to compete.
With that in mind, all PWBA Hall of Famers, past, present and future, owe Bundrick a debt of gratitude.
The PWBA Hall of Fame Committee elected the 2023 class based on submitted applications. The committee is comprised of PWBA Hall of Fame members, board members of the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America and USBC and bowling media members.
Through 2023, there are 47 members of the PWBA Hall of Fame – 27 in performance, 11 in Ambassador and nine in Meritorious Service/Builder.