California Bowling Writers

February 25, 2009

Debbie Haggerty – A Story of Success
By Barbara Metzinger

Debbie Haggerty of Weimar is a devoted champion of her youth bowlers. She comes by this naturally as her parents were both actively involved in bowling as she was growing up. Debbie’s mother worked at the bowling center in Watsonville (where Debbie was born and raised). Her dad was an avid high average league bowler so it followed suit that the parents introduced her to the sport of bowling at the young age of three. Noticing that Debbie was a natural at the game, they devoted more time to her practice sessions, helping her develop good habits at an early age.

As the years rolled by, Debbie became a skilled junior league bowler. Upon finishing high school she joined the ranks of the full time working class, and also attended night school to further her education. At the age of 17 she took the next step in her bowling career. With an average of 165 she joined an adult women’s league with some of her fellow workers and soon raised her average to 185.

Debbie, as most young people, had an adventurous spirit. A couple of her high school friends packed their car with their belongings and set off to see the United States. Their car broke down in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They called Debbie, telling her it was an exciting place to be and urged her to come join them. She packed her suitcase, hopped in her car and joined her friends.

The girls needed funds to survive so they hired on as housekeepers at a Ski Resort and used some of their wages to trade for ski sessions. Yep, Debbie was a ski bum. They rented a basement apartment and all got various jobs to supplement their income which allowed them to be able to buy food and clothing.

Debbie gave up bowling for a few years as the skiing was occupying all her time. She was hired as a drive-in bartender and this was how she met her future husband Pat. He came by for a drink now and then, and soon the mutual attraction they felt for each other led to dating. They married in 1984.

In a few years the couple were blessed with the birth of Patrick Joseph (PJ). Debbie, now grounded with a family felt her love for bowling return. She went to a local bowling association annual meeting and when it came to election time was prevailed upon to be President. She learned quickly how to lead an association.

She became very active in YABA and their scholarship program as well as running tournaments for her local assoc. The experience she gained in Wyoming would later govern her roll in California as a promoter of tournaments for the youth.

For entertainment Debbie and Pat took PJ bowling. He was a natural from the beginning due to excellent instruction from his mother. As he got older and started entering tournaments his parents realized that living in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, would make it very costly for the family to travel to the premier tournaments that were held on the west coast. So in 1989 they moved to Auburn, California, later moving to the home they now occupy in Weimar.

Debbie became a certified Bowling Instructor in 1994, a USA Bowling Bronze Level Coach in 1996, and earned her Silver Level Coach certification in 2003.

She has coached many youth bowlers, first and foremost is her son P.J. who now is competing as a professional on the PBA tour. P.J. was a member of Junior Team USA for three years. In 2004, he received the honor of being selected as the California WBA “Star of Tomorrow” and the USBC “Chuck Hall Star of Tomorrow”. Later that year, P.J. became the California State Team USA Finals Champion.

Other bowlers that received personal coaching from Debbie and put their skills to good use are Michelle Quirk who was selected as the CWBA 2003 “Star of Tomorrow” and who earned a spot on the Junior Team USA for two years.

Tournaments are Debbie’s forte. In 1999, she organized and directed “The Reno Junior/Adult”, a new tournament which was hosted by the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, NV. This proved to be a great success and the tournament is now celebrating its 10th year for a host of enthusiastic bowlers. The tournament runs for a tightly scheduled three days, flooring 350 teams and 700 doubles. The beauty of this tournament is that it matches parents with their children. The doubles event is one adult and one youth. Team event is two adults and two youth.

Running a tournament is a job in itself. But, Debbie is not content until she knows that all her youth league bowlers that desire to bowl, have that opportunity. It takes money for rooms, shirts and food. Under Debbie’s direction, the parents and youth oversee a July 4th Fireworks booth. There is always a “ways and means” table during league play. Parents and youth that donate their time to manage the booth or ”ways and means” table earn points that can be used for tournament expenses. Parents and their children all love and respect Debbie.

So, what else does this busy lady do? She travels to numerous tournaments on a regular basis to support entrants. She manages Junior Gold qualifiers and helps to advance players to National Championships; manages several local and area tournaments; and is very active in promoting Team USA events. She has served as a youth director and has been coaching for 15 years.

Debbie is not only a gifted bowling coach, but a skilled bowler as well. She has consistently carried a 190 plus average for the last 15 years, posting a 200 average in the 2001 season. She has participated in 10 California WBA tournaments and six Women’s International Tournaments finishing 10th in Division 1 of the WIBC tournament. Her lifetime high series is 782 with a 289 game being her highest game.

She served on the Sacramento Women’s Bowling Association board and is now an active board member of the Greater Sacramento Area Bowling Association. She volunteered to chair their “Bowl for the Cure” tournament. And has already formed a talented committee that will make this tournament a success.

Debbie is frequently honored, and her office is adorned with awards and plaques. She is now a contributing writer for the California Bowling Writers newsletter reporting youth activities. In 2007 she received the National Women’s Bowling Writers “AMF Helen Duval Award” for outstanding service in the Young American Bowling Alliance.

In Spring 2009, at the USBC convention in Reno NV, Debbie will receive the prestigious “David Dahms Coach of the Year” award that recognizes a USBC Youth coach who has been actively involved in the USBC Youth Program and has who demonstrated outstanding commitment to coaching, sportsmanship and knowledge of USBC Youth rules for the last seven years or more. The award recipient receives an expense paid trip to the awards ceremony. As the award winner, Debbie will also be automatically approved as a coach in the “People to People Sports Ambassador Program” and will have the opportunity to travel internationally as part of a People to People bowling tour.

Our sport owes a lot to Debbie for her unselfish efforts, especially in nurturing and encouraging a whole generation of bowlers. She has never been content to simply come up with good ideas, she has always acted upon them, the mark of a true leader. In California and nationally, her many accomplishments will be known and keenly appreciated for many years to come.