Longtime Hays bowling alley owner has Hall of Fame credentials -- and five perfect games



By ABBY BELDEN

abelden@dailynews.net

All of Bruce Herreman's family bowled. So it was only natural he started bowling at 4 or 5 years old. He joined his first bowling league at the age of 9 and has been league bowling ever since.

It should be no surprise Bruce's wife, children and grandchildren are all familiar with the game.

"I had to learn how to bowl to get into the family," joked his wife, Jill.

Bruce and Jill have worked side-by-side for more than 30 years since purchasing Centennial Lanes in 1979.

"It's a business; there are ups and downs, good times and bad times," he said. "We have made a lot of friends, we've got a lot of associations we are very happy with and proud of, and many, many of our customers have been our customers for decades ... but we think of them as more of friends than customers."

In addition to his work at Centennial Lanes, Herreman is involved with various bowling organizations and has been recognized for his work.

He has held all the officer positions in the Kansas State Bowling Proprietors Association. He was president of the U.S. Bowling Congress Kansas State Youth for seven years, ending in the late 1990s. He said he did not seek re-election for that position, because he became the KSBPA president and thought the duties of the offices would overlap.

Herreman said his involvement ranges from working with membership organizations on the local and state level for youth bowlers.

"If it has to do with bowling in Kansas, we try to get involved," Bruce said of his involvement with various bowling organizations.

Herreman was first recognized in 1995 when he was inducted into the Hays USBC Hall of Fame.

He also was inducted into the KSBPA Hall of Fame in 2004.

In April, he was inducted into the Kansas State United States Bowling Congress Bowling Association Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Topeka.

"This one shocked me, I was very surprised," Herreman said. "I didn't expect that. I haven't been as active in this organization as I had in the proprietors organization."

On June 27, he was chosen as Kansas Proprietor of the Year. The honor was recognized at the International Bowl-Expo in Reno, Nev.

In addition to his responsibilities at Centennial Lanes and various bowling organizations, he also bowls competitively -- and has five perfect games to his credit.

"The first 300 game I threw was pretty exciting, especially since we got $1,000 in groceries at a time when we really needed it, with two little baby boys," Herreman said. "So that was pretty exciting."

He also has had success at the USBC National Bowling Tournament, which he has attended for 35 years.

Each year, Herreman said he attends the tournament with former students of his from his time coaching the bowling team at South Dakota State University.

"Going to the National Bowling Tournament with the guys I coached in college is really neat," Bruce said.

The group has not won, but Herreman said they have come close.

While bowling can be for recreation or for sport, Bruce said there is an attraction to the game.

"The number one attraction for bowling in my opinion, it is truly a lifetime activity," Herreman said. "People talk about lifetime activities, well we have had 2-year-olds out bowling and we've got 90-year-olds out bowling."