Bowling runs deep in the O’Connor family, according to West Hempstead bowler Arthur O’Connor III. His grandfather and father, both named Arthur, were well-known bowlers in New York, and he took up the game as a child.
After he graduated from West Hempstead High School in 1978, O’Connor’s bowling career came to a halt when he decided to pursue the culinary arts, working as a chef in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “With that profession, I had no time for bowling,” O’Connor, 60, recalled. “I traveled a lot, and it just didn’t lead to bowling.”
But he started bowling again in 2000, and he combined both of his passions in 2011, when he became a bowling coach and the food and beverage director at Jib Lanes in Flushing, Queens. Jib Lanes’ bowling program blossomed under O’Connor’s leadership, expanding from six youth bowlers to more than 120 as of last season.
Recognized for his ability to guide new bowlers, O’Connor was named the 2021 David Dahms Coach of the Year by the International Bowling Campus Youth Committee last month. The annual award recognizes an active U.S. Bowling Congress-certified coach who leads a USBC youth program and has demonstrated outstanding commitment to coaching, sportsmanship and knowledge of the organization’s rules.
“Quite frankly, I was stunned, and I still am,” O’Connor said. “It’s been a cool trip to see how far I’ve come.”
A father of two, O’Connor, who coaches bowlers of all ages, said he likes to focus on the fundamentals. His YouTube channel, Art of Bowling, which he launched in 2018, has more than 20,000 subscribers and has amassed more than 1.6 million views.
“My YouTube channel kind of emphasizes the basic tips and tricks behind bowling,” O’Connor said. “Believe it or not, three games of bowling is equivalent to walking a mile, so I try to keep my lessons light and simple.”
In addition to teaching novices, O’Connor has encouraged experienced bowlers to share their knowledge with new bowlers to help them improve. “Arthur plays a big [role] in New York’s youth bowling programs,” said Lou DeMartino, general manager of AMF Bowling Co., in a Facebook post. “This is well deserved for Arthur.”
O’Connor, who is also an administrative assistant for the USBC in New York City, helps his students find scholarship opportunities through bowling. Despite having bowled 13 perfect 300 games, he said he knows the difficulties of sustaining a profitable career in bowling, which is why he puts education first.
“There’s only 64 guys that travel every week on the [Professional Bowlers Association] tour,” O’Connor said. “Of that, the top five are making money. In bowling, there really isn’t a whole lot of money to be made through the sport. I know that I’m never going to get rich by coaching bowling, but at least I’m doing what I love.”
O’Connor was motivated to try coaching full-time, and ended his gig as food and beverage director at Jib Lanes, when he attended the 2018 World Bowling Coach Conference at the International Training and Research Center in Arlington, Texas. There he got to meet bowling greats such as Suzie Minshew, Jack Clemente and Ron Hatfield.
“I don’t feel like I work now,” O’Connor said. “I enjoy every day much more now than worrying about who was showing up to work when I ran restaurants. So I encourage others to do what they love.”
He will be honored at the annual USBC Convention, which will be held virtually on April 28, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.