Phyllis Notaro

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Bowling Champion

In the 1950s and 1960s professional bowling was dominated by the likes of Carmen Salvino, Don Carter and Steve Nagy and other top men stars who snagged the headlines. For the most part, ladies were associated with top professional teams. Outstanding individual stars were a rare and lesser-known breed.

Phyllis Notaro helped change all that. She did it through years of practice, patience and perseverance.

She began learning the sport in Angola where her family owned a bowling alley. Later she moved to the Buffalo Women’s Classic League where she perfected her style even more and continued her mastery of the sport. From Buffalo, Phyllis went on to a national career as a professional, a career so successful that she was ultimately inducted into the Women’s International Congress Hall of Fame.

Notaro’s list of accomplishments could fill volumes. In 1961 she was named to the first women’s All-American team by National Bowling Illustrated Magazine, the same year she had a 210 average, which was the highest for a woman in the U.S., and the same year she won the National Women’s All-Star matches, now the U.S. Open. Other feats include a 300 game in tournament play in 1963 and a six game block of 1,412 in 1970 in another professional tournament, a world record at the time. She holds 25 City Championships in Buffalo, 13 New York State titles and three national championships. In addition, she was a five-time finalist in the World’s Invitational Match Game Competition, as well as a finalist in many PWBA tournaments.

Throughout her career Notaro demonstrated one characteristic that separated her from the competition: no matter how tight a match she would remain unflappable. Her powers of concentration were so extraordinary that she could do what it took to win the big matched regardless of how intense the pressure was. Her enormous talent and her incredible powers of concentration made her one of America’s first great champions of women’s bowling. She was a true professional who helped pave the way for Doris and Cindy Coburn and for the other women who followed her.