Six bowlers welcomed into Greater Roanoke Area USBC Hall of Fame Class of 2023

First hall of fame class since 2017
Published: Mar. 25, 2023 at 1:59 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - For the first time in 6 years, the Greater Roanoke Area United States Bowling Congress will welcome a class into the hall of fame.

Six men, Michael Shafer, Donald Eckles, Christopher Roberts, Jason Pauley, Rickey McKinney, and Russell Hicks developed an early love for the game that grew into a passion for most of their lives. Now, their work will forever be immortalized with an induction into the Greater Roanoke Area USBC hall of fame.

“I couldn’t be in a better class than with these guys right here,” said Michael Shafer.

Michael Shafer moved to the area 8 years ago and quickly became ingrained into bowling scene. He’s the vice president of the local chapter and was a driving force in getting the hall of fame active once again.

He’s going in under Meritorious Service but don’t think he’s not a wiz on the lanes, he has 15 300 games under his belt.

“We deserve to give our bowlers everything we possibly can. It’s phenomenal and I was honored to be nominated and got voted in with these guys behind me. It’s really a special, special thing,” said Shafer.

Donald Eckles is one of the three going into the hall on skill and ability. He’s one of the last things the 10 pins want to see at the end of the lane.

“I’ve had 34 300s, 12 800 series and one of my greatest memories is I shot a 279-triple kit in the mixed state in Virginia in 2014. A lot of respect for a lot of people that I’ve bowled with to give me that nomination,” said Eckles.

Christopher Roberts put his hall of fame news into one word, “Surreal.”

If every class has their ringer, Roberts would be that guy. He got into the game because of his dad’s love for bowling and has turned that into 54 300s and 23 800s in a three-game series.

“Just thankful. I’ve had a lot of big games and big series but I’m just thankful I can do it,” said Roberts.

You could call Jason Pauley the marathon man. He described a tournament he won in his late 20s where at one point he had a streak of 30 straight strikes.

“I didn’t realize it but someone came up to me at the end of the tournament and said ‘You realized you had 30 in a row at one point?’ and I was like ‘No’ so that was pretty shocking,” joked Pauley.

Playing with his granddad lit a fire inside Pauley that led him to 27 career 300s but it nearly went out a few years ago. The brotherhood brought him back.

“It’s hard to walk away from the people,” said Pauley.

“It was pretty emotional,” said Rickey McKinney.

Rickey McKinney is one of two that are headed into the legacy wing of the hall of fame. A lifelong Roanoker who loves to bowl but loves the people even more.

“I don’t come out to bowl, if I bowl good that’s good but I come out to visit with family, friends, and have a good time. That’s what it’s all about,” said McKinney.

Going into the hall of fame is a dream come true for McKinney after supporting all those who came before him.

“I’ve went to some hall of fame banquets, but I never thought I’d be in it,” McKinney proudly said.

Russell Hicks rounds out the lot bringing over 53 years of experience and 9 300s into the hall. He was nominated by his daughter.

“It’s kind of different when your child thinks you’ve earned it,” said Hicks.

Hicks the runs the pro shop at Hill Top Lanes and says he’s always looking to share the game with new bowlers.

Even though it might take a little longer to recover these days, he’s always ready for another frame.

“I just love the game. I don’t know what brings me to it, I have aches in my knees and pains in my back, but I still want to get through it and compete,” said Hicks.

For the first time since 2017, the Greater Roanoke Area USBC Hall of Fame will grow from 112 to 118, allowing these six to leave their mark on the sport they love.

“I think we’re a very close-knit group,” said Pauley.

“You could call on any one of them to go bowl or hang out or do something,” added Hicks.

“I’m very proud to go in with all five of them,” said Eckles.

“It’s the fellowship, it’s the people you bowl with, it’s the competition,” said Shafer.

“They’re all really good bowlers,” said Roberts.

“Go out and make some memories for yourself and your family and friends,” added McKinney.

If you’re interested in joining a bowling league, click HERE.

Follow the Greater Roanoke Area USBC Facebook page.