Ken Roetzel is the nation’s first Youth Leader and has been searching for a way to raise scholarships for youth bowlers since his sophomore year in college.
It was at that time that Roetzel realized nine members of his college team received no scholarships while one bowler received a full ride. The scholarship bowler happened to double as an offensive guard on the football team.
About that same time in 1977, Roetzel and a friend, Joey Lewis, created the First Youth Leader program. Roetzel was elected President of the Greater Little Rock Youth Leaders and held the position for three years. Thus becoming the nation’s first Youth Leader.
In two years, the GLRYL’s achievements were substantial. Lewis became the President of the Arkansas Youth Bowling Association and Roetzel was hired as the Bowling Editor for the Arkansas Gazette, a statewide newspaper, and named chaperon, at age 21, for four other youth bowlers to the 1979 All-American Youth Bowling Championship in Washington D.C..
Johnny Watts, a YABA field rep attended the Arkansas Youth Bowling Association’s Annual Meeting a year later in 1980. He was surprised to see the State President was a youth bowler. Watts discovered how a group of 12 youth bowlers had become leaders, what they had done to improve their sport and the responsibilities the “adults” in the bowling community had entrusted to them. He took their story to Wisconsin and later that year YABA announced their nationwide Youth Leaders Program.
In 1993, the Internal Revenue Service allowed scholarship organizations to have a 501 (c) 3 if they based the scholarships only on Financial Need or Academic Excellence. Roetzel made the case for Youth Bowling Scholarships of America determining scholarships based on the outcome of bowling tournaments. In March 1994, the IRS changed their statues and YBSA was granted the nation’s first 501 (c) 3 for a scholarship organization who based their scholarships on athletic ability. The case worker said YBSA’s outcome was “a Miracle”.
In 2016, a program was created so YBSA can raise scholarships at no cost to the bowling community. Roetzel is changing bowling for the better…again! Help spread the word and let’s bless the lives of today’s youth bowlers through post-high school education.
Ken, 59, and Sharry have been married for 36 years and live in Springdale, Arkansas. They have two children, Stephanie 29 and Derek 24.
Roetzel earned a BSE–Math Degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in December 1981. He accepted a position with the Federal Aviation Administration as an Air Traffic Controller in January 1982 and retired in February 2008. Currently he is the Air Traffic Tower Manager at Rogers, AR for CI2 Aviation. He taught math part-time at Texas A&M at Texarkana and McNeese State University for a total of 13 years