Roberts establishes Millie Ignizio Bowling Scholarship

COURTESY OF ROBERTS WESLEYAN COLLEGE

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. 

“Thanks to the generosity of a special friend of the Redhawks, the next generation of women bowlers from the Rochester area will have the opportunity to compete at the next level while honoring the legacy of the legendary Millie Ignizio,” athletics director Bob Segave said.  

Awarded to a female Section V high school graduate with a limit of one award per academic year to an incoming Roberts first-year student or transfer, this $7,500 scholarship is renewable for a limit of four varsity seasons and is now available for the 2021-22 academic year. Selection is based on superior bowling achievement, academic excellence, a strong commitment to volunteer community service and admirable sportsmanship. A total of 42 Section V high schools conducted girls bowling in 2020-21. 

“I am absolutely thrilled," said Ignizio, a lifelong area resident who lives in Greece. "I have never had anybody do anything like this for me and to have my name associated with a scholarship that helps young women bowlers just warms my heart." 

Millie Ignizio.

Ignizio grew up in Rochester, where her parents ran a bowling center. She picked up the sport at age 12 and the left-hander soon became the top female bowler in Rochester. After graduating from Franklin High School, Ignizio turned pro in 1966 and finished third in her second career event. She opened the 1967 season with a victory in the Pompano Open and rolled the first 300 game in PWBA history while winning the next event in Tucson. 

Ignizio earned the first of her three USBC Queens titles in her hometown later that year and notched 10 victories, including three USBC Queens crowns and the 1973 U.S. Women’s Open, before injuries ended her career in 1974. She attempted a comeback in the late 1980s, averaging better than 200 and rolling her second 300 on Feb. 16, 1989, but there is no doubt that arthritis prevented her from accomplishing even more on the lanes.  

Ignizio was named the Rochester Press-Radio Club’s Local Athlete of the Year in 1966 and 1967, and the club recognized her with the Jean Giambrone Service Award for her exemplary commitment to local women’s sports in 1989. She became the youngest woman selected to the Women’s International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in 1975, and is a member of the Rochester Women’s Bowling Association, New York State Women’s Bowling Association and Professional Women’s Bowling Association halls of fame.  

Roberts announced the formation of a women’s bowling program in July 2016. Third-year head coach Marion Sullivan guided the Redhawks to a 10-9-1 record this spring as Roberts won its first East Coast Conference championship and made history by qualifying for the NCAA Division II National Championships for the first time. All seven 2020-21 Redhawks team members are Section V high school graduates.  

The National Tenpin Coaches Association recognized Roberts by including the Redhawks in its final 2020-21 Top 25 national rankings. Roberts was listed 24th among women’s bowling teams in all NCAA divisions, and 11th among Division II and III colleges by the NTCA.