Jo Hardy - A passion for bowling

By Margaret Sweet

It would be hard to find a woman anywhere in the world with a greater passion for bowling - and the people to whom bowling is important - than Jo Hardy. That passion was rewarded on April 18, when she was inducted into the Minnesota Women’s Bowling Association’s Hall of Fame for Meritorious Service.<BR><BR>She was first notified in September of 2003 by Mary Peck, President of the Minnesota Women’s Bowling Association (MWBA), that she was to be inducted into the Minnesota Bowling Hall of Fame. That event took place on April 18, 2004, at the Rosedale Radisson Hotel.<BR><BR>She was accompanied to the event by all of her family except her oldest and youngest sons and was given a standing ovation from the large audience in attendance. Jo started out with a prepared speech which had changed many times between September and April, but all went right out the window with the adulation awarded her by her peers and, when, the Ely bunch she’d bowled with for so many years walked into the room, Jo’s planned speech was lost all together.<BR><BR>Besides an engraved pin, Jo received a plaque from the MWBA and a Certificate of Recognition of Meritorious Service from WIBC. She was also presented with a gift of money from the Babbitt Women’s Bowling Association, gifts from many of her bowling friends, a plant and a bouquet of flowers from The Ely Crew, and many congratulations for the honors bestowed upon her.<BR><BR>Jo has been a member of the MWBA for over 45 years and has competed in more than 40 championship tournaments. She’s also been a MWBA convention delegate for at least that many years and has served on the MWBA Tellers, Nominating, and Rules committees. She attended the National Bowling Tournaments for 31 years and received a plaque from the WIBC for 25 years of participation, and additional patches for the following seven years of service.<BR><BR>Jo started bowling in Babbitt when Jubilee Lanes was new and she was a lot younger. That was her “home” alley for 25 years, or until the building developed serious roof problems which shut it down for a period of time. During those years she mentored Babbitt youth teaching them the fundamentals of the game and encouraging a life-long interest in the sport in many of them. She raised money for Youth For Christ for six years and cochaired the Babbitt Women’s Bowling Association’s 25th anniversary event for which she received a plaque for 25 years of service. She was elected Coach of the Year by the Babbitt Junior, Senior, and Bantams and was presented a special plaque in honor of those years.<BR><BR>While Jubilee Lanes was down for repairs she was courted by the Ely Women Bowlers and took her skills to Ely where she remained until the past year when she again returned to the Babbitt lanes.<BR><BR>She bowled on several teams in Ely, sometimes bowling up to three days a week. She also co-chaired the Ely WBA 40th and 50th Anniversaries and wrote a weekly bowling column for the Ely Echo as well as the Babbitt Weekly News. She acted as a bowling coach for Ely Youth Bowling too. She counts working with the youth of Babbitt and Ely as her greatest enjoyment overall.<BR><BR>Attending state and national conventions enabled Jo to see how the organizations work and helped her to more fully appreciate the great sport of bowling. She attended conventions across the country including those in New York, Seattle, Reno and Las Vegas, Louisiana, Indiana, California, and Michigan to name a few.<BR><BR>Jo’s travels were paid for by money given her as birthday, Christmas or Mother’s Day gifts, and she worked hard at many jobs besides to help pay her way to tournaments and conventions.<BR><BR>“Going to these meets and gatherings enabled me to see and do things I would never have had a chance to do otherwise,” Jo stated.<BR><BR>Among some of the people Jo feels were her mentors through the years were the Minnesota Women’s State Association officers and directors, both past and present. But most of all Gert Fink, MWBA Life Member and a WIBC Hall of Fame member; Betty Hall, WIBC director and Hall of Fame member; Minnesota Women’s Bowling Association member Florence Rocchio, who encouraged the Ely Women’s Bowling Assocation to present Jo’s name for nomination, and last but not least, the delegates who through the years became Jo’s close friends. She feels she had the most amazing opportunities given to her to meet pro bowlers Brian Voss, Dick Weber, Earl Anthony, and Marian Ladwick.<BR><BR>Jo’s Career High Game 234. High Three-Game Series is 589, and her Career High Season Average is 153.<BR><BR>Jo gives special thanks to Marie Hren, former Ely Association secretary for 24 years, and to Connie Koivisto, President of the Babbitt Women’s Bowling Association for nominating her last June.<BR><BR>“I’m just an ordinary person who happened to have many good friends,” Jo said, adding, “Friends are the greatest treasures that God has given me.”<BR><BR>