BVL Board of Directors
Darlene Baker, Chair
Darlene was elected to the Chairmanship of the BVL Board of Directors at the annual meeting in November 2007, and immediately accepted thecharge of propelling BVL forward to a higher level of awareness and involvement both within and outside of the sport of bowling.
Darlene is in a unique position to take on that challenge: She was the first female president of the United States Bowling Congress, the governing body of the sport.
“Our goal is to send the BVL message to every league and bowling center around the country. I’m confident that when they know more about BVL, they will join in our effort.” Darlene points out, “First, our programs are making a difference – right now and everyday –in the lives of our active duty and veteran service men and women. Second, 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 40 years, Darlene brings a myriad of skills to the BVL effort. She has served as a Director for the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), the Women’s International Bowling Congress, the Young American Bowling Alliance and USA Bowling on the national level.
Darlene also holds positions in bowling leadership in her home state of Illinois and is currently a Director for the Illinois State USBC Women’s Bowling Association and Youth organizations. She has previously held other titles for those organizations including vice presidencies and secretary.
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 balances her position as a Director in the Champaign Area USBC with her responsibilities on the USBC Board of Directors. She is presently employed as the CFO for Piatt County Mental Health Center.
“My responsibilities at both the local and national level allow me the opportunity to take the BVL message wherever I go,” Darlene explained. “I’m delighted to increase awareness and promote our campaign.”
When not wearing her many hats for the sport, Darlene and her husband Randy enjoy spending time with their four children and five grandchildren. While Darlene bowls three nights a week, she also finds time for her hobbies including crafts and crocheting. In addition, she is a member of the University of Illinois Women’s Volleyball support group, the Networkers, of which she has been a member since 1998, where she spent six years as president.
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 became the newest member of 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.”
John M. LaSpina is president of Maple Family Centers, a Long Island-based, family-owned chain of five bowling centers stretching from Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties that is distinguished for its commitment to charity. Maple has helped raise more than $500,000 for local charities over the last few years. For the past three 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, 64, 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 children, Joseph and Teresa, who help run the business. LaSpina lives in Long Beach, New York.
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) bowling teacher for veterans receiving care in VA Hospitals nationwide. His Learn-to-Bowl clinics are part of the BVL program. Through this effort, the BVL organization sponsors special bowling classes for veterans at hospitals designedto provide a physical and emotional outlet during their stay at the facility. Petraglia joins an impressive list of professional bowling stars who have served as BVL Clinicians including Nelson Burton, Jr. and the late Helen Duval.
Petraglia lays claim to 16 National and 35 Regional and other professional bowling titles, including bowling’s coveted triple crown — the PBA National Championship, the U.S. Open and the Tournament of Champions.
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 want to be a part of that.”
Petraglia visits VA Hospitals throughout the country while competing on the PBA Senior Tour.