ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) —Roberts Wesleyan College is honoring the greatest women’s bowler in Rochester history with the creation and endowment of the Millie Ignizio Bowling Merit Scholarship.
Ignizio and Roberts Athletic Director Bob Segave discussed the new scholarship Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.
“The idea came forth from a group of us,” Segave said. “Tony Wells, Bill Fortino, and Millie met and we had this vision of what we would want to do. And then we have this very special friend of the Red Hawks who made an anonymous gift that would endow this scholarship and allow us to have up to four Section Five bowlers who meet the criteria that Millie helped us work on and just be able to offer that scholarship in perpetuity.”
Ignizio grew up in Rochester and honed her skills at the bowling center operated by her parents. The left-hander turned pro in 1966 and the very next year she rolled her first 300 games and won the first of three United States Bowling Congress Queens titles. She also captured the 1973 U.S. Women’s Open. Her career was cut short by injuries but not before Ignizio won 10 titles. She became the youngest woman selected for the Women’s International Bowling Congress (now the USBC) Hall of Fame.
“It pleasures me to know that somebody still knows who I am and what I’ve done for the City of Rochester,” she said. “I still love to watch the kids bowl or anybody bowl, but this is really special because I don’t bowl, but this is another special thing in my life because it really means a lot for my name to be given to someone with a scholarship.”
Ignizio recently spent some time with the young ladies on the Roberts Wesleyan Bowling team as they showed off their skills. “I’m amazed at how many bowling balls they all carry around with them and they’re all great, great bowlers,” she noted. “I introduced myself to all of them and some of the parents. I actually enjoyed it because I got to see them bowl and chit-chat a little bit about how they’re doing. And I had a few people come in who knew me from bowling.”
Rochester has produced a number of elite bowlers over the years. Even Ignizio isn’t sure why. “I really don’t know,” she said. “But, yes, we do have some great bowlers that some people don’t even know of that are great bowlers – been on the Pro Tour and won things. But with me, I think at the time the paper was gung-ho about putting names in the paper and how you bowled. I bowled good most of my life and to get a lot of recognition was something.”
This latest recognition will create a legacy of opportunity for student-athletes at Roberts Wesleyan College. “We’re just so excited to be the only program in the area even offering collegiate bowling and the success that we’ve had is something that we’re going to be able to build on,” Segave said. “We were on the national stage with a Sweet Sixteen berth last year. Our head coach is a former professional bowler as well, Marion Sullivan. Now to be able to add a very special scholarship for a very special woman who is from our hometown and who competed at the highest, highest level is just going to be game-changing for us.”
To learn more about the scholarship and bowling at Roberts Wesleyan visit robertsredhawks.com.