It was an afternoon of milestones for father and son Tony and J.T. Cherpeski.
Tony was inducted into the Greater Dayton United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame for bowling achievement on Aug. 4 – an honor that was expected but exciting nonetheless. Later in the annual banquet program, 18-year-old J.T. was recognized as the recipient of the Kurt Gostel Senior Scholarship – an unexpected honor for the recent Fairborn High School graduate.
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The award, which takes into account academic strength and community service as well as bowling success, is given in the name of the longtime coach who taught bowling at the University of Dayton in the mid 1960s and instilled a love of the game in countless young Miami Valley bowlers. Tony won the award in 1991 – making them the first father-son duo to earn the Gostel scholarship.
“It definitely makes me proud,” Tony said of his son’s award. “I don’t think you can go out any better than that from the youth ranks.”
J.T. has had numerous accomplishments in the more than 13 years he has been bowling in leagues, including 25 city youth championship titles. Then there are the four 300 games and a pair of 800 series, including an 813 high series. Placing in the top 100 – from a field of 1,500 – at the competitive Junior Gold tournament was a point of pride for him this year.
“I was about 250 last year, but I tried hard and worked on my game and it worked out,” he said.
Bowl 10 proprietor Dave Flemming has seen J.T.’s work ethic firsthand over the years.
“He works as hard or harder than any athlete that has gone through our program in my 38 years bowling,” Flemming said. “J.T. has developed the mental game to match his physical game, as is evident by the many wins and high finishes.”
While Tony is a proud dad, he is more impressed by his son’s attitude than his honor scores.
“It’s more about his sportsmanship and how he carries himself,” Tony said. “He gets frustrated, like anyone else, but he doesn’t show it. I’ve always said, ‘if you’re only taught how to win, you don’t know how to lose with dignity’ and that’s really important.”
In the classroom, J.T. also excelled, landing on the high school honor roll every year, even with a full slate of challenging honors and AP classes. The four-year varsity letter winner also volunteered his time as a GDUSBC youth leader and youth bowling coach.
J.T. will attend Sinclair Community College in the fall, working toward a degree in electrical engineering technology. While he won’t be competing in the collegiate ranks, he will definitely be bowling as he plans to join several adult leagues.
“I think the atmosphere will definitely be different and there might be a bit of a skill gap but that will motivate me to get better,” he said.
The 18-year-old, who threw his first ball at 18 months old, also has his sights set on winning a PBA regional event someday in the not-so-distant future.
“I expect him to do great things both on and off the lanes,” Flemming said.