By Jim Goodwin on Sep 18, 2019 3:23:41 PM
If you are thinking of a 'Mount Rushmore' of the best women's amateur bowlers of all-time, Shannon Pluhowsky would have to be in that top four. She is now enjoying a successful professional career, but she is also one of those players who were ready to turn pro about the time the PWBA ceased operation in 2003 . . . which always leads to the 'what if' questions.
If there were any doubters of Pluhowsky's talent and potential as a pro, her performance in the 2006 USBC Queens erased those questions. In that event, she defeated a player that many think will become the GOAT . . . greatest of all time, Liz Johnson, for her first major title. The video was released this week in the BowlTV Vault.
We caught up with Shannon as she was preparing to compete as one of the top 16 in the 2019 PWBA Tour Championship in Richmond, Virginia.
"That win was the beginning of my career," she said. "I was just out of college when I won the Queens, and it gave me the confidence to be able to compete on the professional level."
Many years ago, we had a conversation with hall of famer and bowling television icon Bo Burton about the high scoring epidemic in bowling. We will never forget Bo's matter-of-fact answer . . . he said "It does not matter what the score is; all that matters is who you defeat." And he gave Norm Duke as an example, saying that when Duke defeated the great Earl Anthony in 1983 to win his first pro title at age 18, he earned instant respect . . . and today Duke has 40 titles.
Pluhowsky may not win 40 times on the women's tour, but she will always have the respect she earned in defeating one of the all-time greats in that 2006 Queens, and if you watch this show, you will see a very dramatic finish.
Shannon has five professional titles if you count the PBA Women's Series, the Queens and the 2014 BPAA All Star, an event staged in Rockford, Illinois, because there was no U.S. Women's Open staged that year.
But her record as an amateur player can only be described as phenomenal. For a combined 23 years, she has been a member of Team USA and Junior Team USA. She was the 2001, 2003 and 2006 U.S. Amateur champion. She won the Junior Gold Championship three times from 1999-2001. She won the very prestigious QubicaAMF World Cup in 2002 and 2004. In 2001, she dominated the Tournament of the Americas, winning six gold medals.
As a collegiate bowler at the University of Nebraska, she was a two-time Player of the Year, and her team won the NCAA National Championship in 2004 and 2005.
A few years ago, we did a story about Nebraska Coach Bill Straub, who recently retired from that position after winning a dozen national championships. He described Shannon Pluhowsky as the best he has ever coached.
"If you are looking for the best female bowler today," said Straub, "You have to consider Shannon Pluhowsky, and she was nice enough to come to Nebraska."
Pluhowsky returned the compliment by saying that Coach Straub is still her primary source for bowling advice.
"I learned a lot about my bowling individually while bowling for Nebraska ," said Pluhowsky. "He is someone I still call and am able to talk to about anything. He has helped me make decisions involving my bowling career since Nebraska and he is someone I will call for advice at anytime."
. . . Kind words for a great coach from one of the best of all time. And her PWBA career is far from over.