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Bruce Merriman has been actively involved in the bowling community for over 25 years.
In 1986, he purchased a majority interest in the Sports Plus Pro Shop in Springfield. He later acquired the Carmen Don Pro Shop and merged the two operations. From the moment Bruce took the helm at Sports Plus, he began a management style that few businessmen would share. First, he intentionally remained in the background, allowing credit for accomplishments to be shared by Sports Plus staff members. Second, he put all profits from the business back in to promoting the sport of bowling.
Bruce quickly expanded the Sports Plus staff to include locally respected bowlers whose games had potential. He had them trained as instructors and made arrangements with a few local centers that would allow the staff members to obtain quality practice in exchange for providing free lessons to any bowlers seeking to improve their game. Many casual and serious bowlers enhanced their skills and knowledge as a result of this campaign.
When a bowler showed the right attitude and real potential, Bruce went even further. He generously provided financial sponsorship to local aspiring professional bowlers, including Jim Lewis, Larry O'Neill, Lisa Rand, Jim Robinette, and Richard Wolfe. In addition, Bruce sponsored national stars, including Eric Forkel and Danny Wiseman.
Bruce continues to provide support and assistance to those willing to learn. He has planned and sponsored many skill enhancement workshops, from beginner to advanced levels. He often has offered employment at Sports Plus to individuals displaying that strong desire to learn.
In addition to his support for skill enhancement, Bruce has worked hard to provide opportunity for bowlers to compete and polish their skills. He established and managed many tournaments and offered sponsorship to many already in existence. Behind the scenes, he was the catalyst for the promotion, scheduling, and design improvements to the tournaments and events his pro shop staff operated.
A list of some of the events he has managed and sponsored includes: the Adopt-A-Bowler Program for Youth Bowlers, the Syd Jones Tournaments, 40 and Over Tournaments, Youth Classic Tournaments, Adult/Youth Tournaments, Pro-Am Tournaments, Ladies Choice Tournaments, and the Virginia Queens Tournaments.
Many local bowling center managers can tell stories of how Bruce would take money from his pocket during a tournament and add it to the prize fund.
Always searching for and welcoming opportunities, Bruce constantly has pursued new ideas and innovations aimed at improving and enhancing the sport of bowling. He worked diligently behind the scenes with General Bowling Corporation management to develop the innovative Thursday Mixed Classic League at Alexandria (currently, the Duke Mixed Classic League) and the Spotlight Video League at Annandale. These leagues became the models for many others elsewhere.
The International Bowling Pro Shops and Instructors Association, the trade organization for pro shops, frequently referred to Bruce's operation as the role model for other pro shops to follow.
Bruce's bowling accomplishments also are admirable. While bowling in the McLean (Va.) All Stars League, he rolled back-to-back games of 299 in the same series.
During his active involvement with the bowling community, Bruce was employed with the Fairfax County Water Authority from 1967 until his retirement in 1995. He was the customer service manager for 22 years.
Bruce Merriman's continuous unselfish service and dedication to the bowling community merits him a special spot in the NCABA Hall of Fame.