BVL Board of Directors
John LaSpina, Chairman
John was elected to the position of Chair in August of 2014. He is president of Maple Family Centers, a chain of four bowling centers in the New York City area and another location in Florida. Maple is a family-owned business that is distinguished for its commitment to charity, raising more than $500,000 for charities over the last few years. For the past five years, Maple Family Centers has raised more funds for Bowlers to Veteran’s Link (BVL) than any other company in the industry.
Maple opened its first bowling center in Brooklyn in 1971. Early in his career, LaSpina committed to the bowling industry and the community at large. LaSpina served as president of the New York City Bowling Proprietors’ Association from 1977-1980; the board of directors of the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, from 1977-2002, and from 2003 until now, serving on various committees such as nominating, legislative, bowl expo and industry integration. He has held leadership roles with the Tri State Bowling Promotions committee, Young American Bowling Alliance, East Coast Bowling Centers’ Convention Committee, International Bowl Expo and many others.
LaSpina has served on the board of directors of Saint Mary’s Children’s Hospital Foundation Board, and currently sits on the board of directors for Fight for Sight and BVL, which he joined in 2012.
His many awards include an outstanding Alumni Award from Long Island University’s Southampton campus; induction in 1982 to the New York City Bowling Proprietors’ Association Hall of Fame, Metropolitan Bowling Writer’s Association Meritorious Award and in 1994, he was named the International Bowling Industry Person of the Year.
LaSpina, loves bowling and has followed the lead set by the company’s founder, his father Peter J. LaSpina, Sr., who took him to BPA and Metropolitan Bowling Writer’s meetings when he was a teenager.
LaSpina graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Long Island University’s Southampton campus. He is married and the father of two grown children, Joseph and Teresa, who help run the business. LaSpina lives in Long Beach, New York.
In 2005, Walter J. Hall, Pasadena, Md., was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Bowlers to Veterans Link (BVL) as a representative of the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America (BPAA).
Recognized as a leader within the sport of bowling, Wally has spent almost 50 years in the bowling business and with the BPAA. Among his numerous honors, Wally earned BPAA’s most prestigious award, the Victor Lerner Memorial Award, and is a member of BPAA’s Hall of Fame.
Wally’s extensive bowling industry resume includes variety of voluntary leadership positions, including President of BPAA, Chairman of National Bowling Forum, Board Member and Vice Chair of Bowling Inc. and President of MUBIG (Bowling Chain Operators Group). In addition, Hall is currently a Trustee of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.
Beginning his career as the first employee of Brunswick, U.K. Ltd. in his native England, Wally was promoted to General Manager of Fairlanes Bowling Limited, and oversaw the construction and operation of one of the first bowling chains outside of the U.S. Hall also served as Managing Director of Public Amusements Ltd., a subsidiary of the Granada Group, Ltd, responsible for a range of operations including movie theaters, bingo halls, bowling centers and a leisure park. Wally’s next position was with Fair Lanes, Inc., Baltimore, Md. Subsequently, he became President and CEO of Fair Lanes, then the largest operator of bowling centers in the U.S. with 112 centers, along with a chain of restaurants and 13 health and fitness centers, as well as a controlling position in BTR Realty Inc., of which Wally was Chairman.
“I have been fortunate to have been involved in many aspects of business and the sport of bowling, but I feel a special sense of pride and enthusiasm for our work at BVL,” Wally said. “We are responsible for brightening the days of our active duty military and speeding the recuperation of our hospitalized veterans – this is a task which we approach with great passion.”
Currently, Wally owns and operates three bowling centers in Maryland, along with a restaurant company based in Salisbury, Md. He is also the President of Hall Investments, and Chairman of Hall Enterprises, a consulting company.
Outside of bowling, Wally has brought his expertise to a variety of civic and philanthropic boards and is currently a Trustee of the Anne Arundel Community College and a member of the Board of Directors of the Baltimore/Washington Medical Center.
Wally and wife, Joyce, live along the Chesapeake Bay where they enjoy spending their leisure time with their three sons and their families.
Marci joined the BVL Board of Directors in September 2010, bringing with her an extensive knowledge of bowling as well as finance. For the last 35 years, Marci has been very active in the sport as well as in her career with Learjet, Inc. from where she recently retired as a corporate tax analyst.
In addition to her work in the tax department, Marci served on Learjet’s management association board and their employees’ association board for more than 15 years.
She began her “other” career – in the sport of bowling in 1975 in which she has enjoyed a great amount of success. Marci had a record qualifying round at the 2007 USBC Senior Queens and part of a team that won several Brunswick World Team Challenge women’s events in the 1990s. She was named 2006-07 Great Plains USBC Senior Bowler of the Year. Additionally, Marci was Great Plains USBC Association president from 2005 (when the association was named the BPAA Association of the Year) to 2010.
Marci is a native of Wichita, Kan., where she lives with her husband. In her spare time, Marci enjoy golfing and traveling.
“I’m delighted to be a part of the leadership of BVL,” explains Marci. “This is a great cause which makes a difference every day in VA hospitals and on the front lines. We have an opportunity to give back to those who sacrificed for us and we take that mission very seriously.”
Fletcher joined the BVL Board in July 2012 as one of BVL’s most successful local fund-raisers. Libbi has made a name for herself promoting and supporting BVL in the Detroit area.
Fletcher had served nationally with WIBC for four years prior to the merger and five years under the USBC umbrella. She was the first President of Metro Detroit USBC (MDUSBC) during the time period when four area associations merged to create MDUSBC, the largest local association in USBC. In addition to her work on the BVL Board, Fletcher is the current Chair of both the Strategic Planning and Diversity national committees at USBC.
When not volunteering in the sport she loves and bowling in two leagues, Fletcher works in information technology, currently employed by I.T. solution provider Logicalis.
Reflecting on her thoughts about BVL, Fletcher commented, “My father served in the Army during the Korean Conflict, so I have a personal interest in our service men and women. In addition though, all Americans enjoy the freedoms and liberty provided by these men and women… and I am happy to be able to give something back to say THANK YOU! BVL provides amazing services to our men and women in our VA hospitals, and it’s critical that our sport works to maintain our mission.”
Glenn Carano, General Manager of Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, has been appointed the newest member of the Bowlers to Veterans’ Link Board of Directors. The announcement was made today by BVL Board Chair John LaSpina.
“We are delighted that Glenn will be joining the BVL Board as we work together to help strengthen our mission to brighten the days of America’s hospitalized veterans and active duty troops,” noted LaSpina. “Glenn will bring his vast marketing expertise to our efforts which will greatly enrich our strategic plans to meet the needs of America’s heroes.”
Prior to his current position, Carano was Director of Marketing at the Silver Legacy. Previously, Carano worked at the Eldorado from 1985 to 1995.
Carano has wide ranging Board experience, serving as a member of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority and Chairman of the Marketing Committee. Carano has also been a Board Member with the Reno Airport Authority for eight years and served six years as Commissioner with the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Football fans will remember Carano as a second round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys who backed-up Roger Staubach and Danny White as quarterback from 1977 to 1983. Carano attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on a football scholarship.
Carano was voted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame for not only his time as a professional athlete, but for his accomplishments in community service and dedication to businesses across Nevada.
The latest addition to the BVL Board is El Paso native Karl Kielich. A former member of the U.S. Air Force, United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Board Member Karl Kielich was appointed to the Bowlers to Veterans Link Board of Directors effective August 1, 2016.
On the USBC Board, Kielich has chaired the Association Outreach Committee and served on a number of committees including Audit, Awards and Recognition; Executive Director Review; Legal and Legislative; and National Policy. He has also worked on the Women’s Championships task force, Performance Standards task force, and IBC Joint Strategic Planning task force.
Kielich was president of the El Paso USBC for five years and is currently the association manager. An El Paso USBC Hall of Fame member, he is also a USBC Bronze coach. Since 2005, Kielich has been with AT&T as a lead financial analyst. Previously, he was an assistant manager at a bowling center.
Elaine Hagin, Member Emeritus
For more than 20 years, the Bowlers to Veterans Link thrived under the stewardship of one of the leaders in the sport of bowling, Elaine Hagin. Elaine, a Castro Valley, Calif. native, is now the BVL’s first member emeritus.
Elaine began her work with BVL as a member of the Alameda County (California) Women’s Bowling Association during the 1970s. Since then, she has contributed as a BVL torchbearer throughout her career in the sport of bowling.
Elaine’s other titles include the First Vice President of the former Women’s International Bowling Congress (WIBC). Within WIBC, she has served in a variety of committee capacities including Marketing/Public Relations, Finance, Legislative and dozens more. Also on the list of Elaine’s positions are Secretary, International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame; President, USA Bowling; President, Young American Bowling Alliance; and Director, Bowling Writers Association of America.
Elaine is a recognized leader in sports around the world, traveling extensively as part of her duties for bowling, as well as through her responsibilities as a former member of the Advisory Board of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Anti-Doping Committee of the United States Olympic Committee.
Over her career, Elaine has received many honors including Women’s International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame, Women’s Sports Foundation President’s Award, and Street & Smith’s “Super 50.”
BVL Spokesperson: Bowling Hall-of-Famer and Vietnam Vet Johnny Petraglia
One of professional bowling’s biggest names, Johnny Petraglia, is the Bowlers toVeterans Link (BVL) spokesperson.
Petraglia lays claim to 14 National, eight Senior, and 13 Regional professional bowling titles, including bowling’s coveted triple crown — the PBA National Championship, the U.S. Open, and the Tournament of Champions. He is the owner of a staggering 56 300 games. Petraglia is the only bowler in history to win a national PBA Tour title in six different decades. He is a member of both the PBA and USBC Halls of Fame.
Petraglia, a touring pro since 1965, was elected to the PBA Hall of Fame in 1982, and has served three terms as that organization’s president (1979-1980, 1989-1990, 1997-1998).
After launching his bowling career, Petraglia was called to duty in Vietnam in 1967 -1968, during the Tet Offensive. There he served as an Army Spec. 5 in Long Binh and Bien Hoa. Like many veterans, Petraglia lost many friends in Vietnam, and a couple of close friends suffered leg amputations. “After coming home, to see the way they live their lives and what they’ve done with themselves, it’s really inspirational,” continues Petraglia,
“In terms of my career, it’s helped me put things in perspective, if I throw a clutch strike on TV to win, I tell myself that this isn’t tough. Tough is going through the war experience.”
“I’m happy to meet more of my fellow veterans. BVL does many great things for our veterans, and I’m happy to be a part of that.”
Petraglia visits VA Hospitals throughout the country while competing on the PBA Senior Tour.
Darlene Baker, BVL Ambassador
Darlene serves as BVL Ambassador following her role as Chair of the BVL Board of Directors from 2007 through 2014. Darlene is a passionate advocate for the veterans cause, and specifically BVL. During her tenure as Chair, Darlene oversaw a period of unprecedented growth for BVL including a 35% increase in contributions, a decrease in overhead, and a re-branding.
“My goal is to send the BVL message to every association around the country. I’m confident that when they know more about BVL, they will join in our effort. We are bowling’s OWN, oldest and most successful charity – but we cannot slow down. Our veterans need us now more than ever before in history.”
Darlene points out, “BVL programs are making a difference – right now and every day — in the lives of our active duty and veteran service men and women. What’s more, we operate under an efficient and effective delivery model with very little overhead. That’s the perfect scenario — good plus good equals great.”
Associated with the sport of bowling for more than 45 years, Darlene brings a myriad of skills to the BVL effort. She has served as President of the United State Bowling Congress as well as Vice President and Director, and previously served as a Director for the Women’s International Bowling Congress, the Young American Bowling Alliance and USA Bowling on the national level.
On the lanes, she won eight titles in the 1989 Clinton (Ill.) WBA championships and bowled a high series of 675 to finish fourth in the USBC Open Championships Tournament Classified Division in 2006. She also is a certified lane inspector.
Currently, Darlene serves as President of the Illinois State USBC Youth Association, Director on the Illinois State USBC WBA board, Director on the Champaign Area USBC Association board and was recently elected President for the 16-17 Season. She is presently employed as CFO at the Piatt County Mental Health Center.
When not wearing her many hats for the sport, Darlene and her husband Randy enjoy spending time with their four children and six grandchildren. While Darlene bowls three nights a week, she also finds time for her hobbies including crafts and crocheting.