Women's International Bowling Congress

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The Women's International Bowling Congress (WIBC) was an organization for women bowlers formed in 1916 as a counterpart to the American Bowling Congress (ABC).

In 2005, the WIBC merged with the ABC, the Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) and USA Bowling to form the United States Bowling Congress (USBC).

An emblem received by Olivia C. Reekie.
A League Championship emblem received by Olivia C. Reekie in 1966.
Note included with emblem.
Note included with emblem.

Founding of the WIBC[edit]

Originally called the Woman's National Bowling Association (WNBA), the Women's International Bowling Congress was formed in St. Louis, Missouri, in late November 1916. It was the first widely recognized women's association for the sport of ten-pin bowling. The founding women were aided by male bowling alley proprietor (Washington Bowling Alleys in St. Louis) Dennis J. Sweeney,[1] who obtained permission from the American Bowling Congress (ABC) in 1907 to hold a national women's tournament on their lanes, and held one in 1916, providing the inspiration.

The founding members of the WIBC were:

  • Catherine Menne, first WIBC president
  • Ellen Kelly, first WIBC secretary
  • Mrs. L.W. Waldecker, first WIBC treasurer (quickly succeeded in 1917 by Cornelia Berghaus, who was elected after Waldecker resigned)

The first official meeting of the WNBA was held on October 26, 1917, in St. Louis. 40 women from 11 cities attended the meeting and voted on the organization's constitution, bylaws, and first 16-member executive committee. The purpose of the organization was agreed to be:

"To provide, adopt and enforce uniform rules and regulations governing the play of American tenpins; to provide and enforce uniform qualifications for tournaments and their participants; to hold a national tournament, and to encourage good feeling and create interest in the bowling game."

The WNBA held its first national tournament — today's USBC Queens event — in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 11 – 12, 1918.


When it became a part of USBC in 2005, there were over 1.2 million WIBC members playing in 67,000 sanctioned leagues in over 2,700 local associations. Local associations exist in every state as well some foreign countries. The national tournament held by the WIBC, now called the USBC Women's Championships, is the largest women's sporting event in the world. The 1997 tournament in Reno, Nevada, attracted 14,872 five-woman teams (for a total of 88,279 participants), the largest entry for any team tournament in history and a women's world record.

See also[edit]


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