Kerm Helmer

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Erie Community College Bowling Coach

In a city of bowlers, many notable, the late Kerm Helmer stood out, and his varied contributions as a coach, official, administrator, and ambassador left a lasting legacy to the sport he cherished.

A native of Utica, and graduate of SUNY Brockport, Helmer founded the men’s bowling program at Erie Community College in 1975; the women’s program was added a year later. By the late 1970s, Coach Helmer had assembled powerful squads of Kats and Lady Kats that brought home to ECC a staggering 37 National Junior College Athletic Association titles (22 for the women, 15 for the men) over a quarter century. His men’s and women’s teams each claimed a pair of National Collegiate Bowling titles in the 1980s as well.

Kerm’s championship teams were the result of not only extensive effort and practice, but also of his innovative coaching methods. Helmer was among the first bowling coaches to utilize videotape as a practice tool, and he constantly drew creative drills from other sports and adapted those methods to the lanes.

Many of Helmer’s keglers went on from ECC to four-year college programs. Kerm enabled many young women bowlers to further their educations by his service as a scholarship judge, and writer, for the New York State Women’s Bowling Association. Helmer was also deeply involved in administrative facets of bowling that benefited his young proteges. Helmer founded the Western New York Classic Bowling Camp for youthful bowlers, and personally ran the camp for over ten years. Kerm served as the director of bowling for the Empire State Games for over twenty years. At various times, he held the posts of president, vice-president, and board member for the Young American Bowling Alliance, a body of more than 400,000 members nationwide. Helmer also became active with the International Youth Bowling Championships and the USA Junior Gold National Bowling Championships. He was instrumental in bringing the Intercollegiate Bowling Championships to Buffalo in 2002, and served as a member of College Bowling USA’s Collegiate Committee.

Helmer’s legacy at ECC is a program still recognized as a national power. His contributions were noted with selection to the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1998, and with his citation as the 2000 National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association Gordon Teigen Award recipient. Tonight, a town that knows its bowling takes Kerm Helmer the next step with induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.