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MacLellan and McNamara to be inducted into the C5PBA Hall of Fame
2023-05-18
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Through much of the eighties and nineties, Sudbury was a hot-bed of five pin bowling.

On a national scale, locals found their way to Canadian Championships with regularity, with entries from Northern Ontario feared adversaries of their counterparts from one coastline to the other.

And while the region has not necessarily excelled at self-promotion in recent years, the truth is that there is an absolute glut of nickel city folks who excelled on the lanes, worthy of elite level recognition.

Yvette MacLellan and Pat McNamara (posthumous) are among the latest additions to the Canadian 5 Pin Bowlers’ Association Hall of Fame, part of a class of seven that will join the founders, builders, coaches and players in the sport, in early June, in a venue that was launched in 2018.

One senses that there will be plenty more from these parts to follow.

A native of St Charles who took to the sport only into her twenties – “we were all so busy doing chores on the farm as kids” – MacLellan truly became a bowler following a family relocation. “We moved to Sudbury when I was 26 or 27 and joined a league – and then it escalated,” said the 67 year-old still active athlete.

Like most, MacLellan originally took to her nights out as a social outlet, enjoying the camaraderie that so often marked the teams of six that would gather at Notre Dame Bowl or at Plaza, at Holiday Lanes or at one of the countless alleys that dotted the entire region. She was a much different bowler back then, to be sure.

“When I first started, I would stand at the very back of the lane and run all the way up to throw my ball,” said the woman who will forever be known as the first female bowler from Northern Ontario to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, located in Edmonton, Alberta. “I had no clue.”

“When I started at Notre Dame, Jim (MacLellan – spouse) taught me how to bowl: how to do three steps, taught me what the arrows were for, explained how I should be picking my pins to improve my game,” Yvette continued. “He helped me tremendously – and my average soared.”

In 1991, she would take a stab at cracking a provincial team for the very first time – and did so, successfully, creating the foundation for what would eventually become three trips to nationals as a singles competitor and no less than 14 times as a member of the Northern Ontario Ladies team.

In 2000 in Hamilton, her team won gold, later securing a pair of bronze medals to add to her collection.

“That was an awesome team in 2000,” MacLellan recalled. “It was an amazing year. We had fun as a group, which was perfect.”

Perfection, of course, is what she would strive for each and every time she would hit the lanes. A perfect game (450) is likely one of the very few accolades that she has narrowly missed, bowling an identical 418 on three separate occasions (perfect game until the 10th frame – then leave corner pin, pick up the spare and close off with a strike).

Competing in a variety of different lane conditions, MacLellan understood that for as much as bowling is about replicating a flawless delivery time and time again, maintaining status quo is a recipe for disaster.

“You have to make those slight adjustments,” she said. “They’re not big adjustments, but if you don’t make them, your game will not be there. Some people like to move their feet; some, like me, like to move their eye-sight. I will either move it (my spot) one board over or further down the lane.”

“It helps you get your ball out a little more.”

Surprised, thrilled and delighted in receiving the news a couple of months ago, MacLellan is adamant that several more locals will follow - the likes of Gail Wiseman and others for sure.

“I think we (Northern Ontario) have been lacking a little in nominating,” she said. “They should be in there – and they should be in there before me.”

Sadly, it will be left to the four children of Pat McNamara (Michael, Kelly, Paula, Sean) and his widow, Evelyn, to celebrate the accomplishments of their father and spouse, the bowling builder inductee having passed away in 1993 at the tender age of just 43. A founding member of the Northern Ontario 5 Pin Bowlers Association, Pat McNamara somehow found a way to move mountains in the sport over the span of two decades or so.

“I used to think that he worked at Inco and his job was to bowl,” recounted Kelly with a laugh. “We were just always there. I never really thought of it as anything special; it was just our life.”

“There”, in the case of the McNamara clan, was typically Pinehill Bowl, the closest venue for the Lively-based family. President of the Nickel District Bowlers Association for more than a decade, McNamara held the same title, or served as VP pretty much every single year from the late seventies/early eighties through to the time of his passing.

“Everyone trusted him – and he never did anything that wasn’t inclusive for everybody,” said Kelly. “We had the open bowlers, the higher average bowlers, but he knew that the lower average bowlers were where the numbers were. He always included everybody.”

That, quite naturally, would extend to his own offspring, all four of whom would bowl, with Michael claiming the Canadian Singles title back in 1994. “We would be at the alley to watch him (my father), we could see all of the work that he was doing at home, and he was there with us, coaching the kids when we bowled,” said Kelly.

“It was all of it; everyone liked him.”

Some thirty years later, his legacy still stands firm.

“They still talk about him today, no matter what bowling alley you go to,” noted Kelly. “That’s really nice.”

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