Diddy Watts (posthumously) and Gary Montgomery have been awarded the 2016 NLAC USBC Hall of Fame Meritorious Service Award. Diddy’s family and Gary will be presented with their award at the NLAC Open Meeting on Sunday, July 31.
February 4, 1946 – November 16, 2012
There isn’t one youth bowler, parent or coach in the San Fernando Valley, or at the State Scratch Tournament, who didn’t know who Diddy was. Diddy’s name and reputation, like many others before her, became synonymous with the term “youth bowling.”
Let’s go back to the beginning. It was the mid 70’s and a newly-married Jewish girl shows up to bowl at Starlite Lanes on Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood, CA. “What, no FREE bowling?” she yells at the desk person. Just kidding, Diddy would never do that! Diddy became well known at the center and at the urging of Ernie Wargo, Starlite’s manager and Pat Shatt, the Women’s Bowling Director, Diddy soon became a delegate for Women’s Bowling and the center’s youth coach. When Starlite closed its doors, Diddy took advantage of owner Bill Mossontte’s big heart, and from that point after, Mission Hills Bowl’s youth program remained a prime example of what a dedicated center could do for youth bowling. Her two sons, Dean and Randy grew up in the program and she saw the great value that bowling offered the kids, thus spending the rest of her life trying to improve ALL youth programs. With the help of Cathy Wells, Diddy became a leading force in the SFV YABA and was President of the youth association for many many years. These activities took her around the country and state to represent Youth Bowling at many tournaments and various conventions.
Diddy ran the youth program at Mission Hills Bowl for 29 years. She enjoyed a 154 average until an industrial accident in 2001 ruined her shoulder. However, her shoulder did not deter her love for helping the junior bowlers. She ran and organized her local association events for over 18 years and soon became involved with the California State YABA in 1999. With the Open, Women and Youth state organizations merging together in 2006, her strong youth bowling beliefs were extremely needed to help build this new organization’s core. Many years later, her dedication along with the transition committee shined through as she was remained chair of the CA State Scratch Youth Tournament that awarded over $3000 in scholarships each year, and continued to help run the Pepsi Youth Bowling Championships District 5 and State Finals.
We all knew Diddy’s love for gambling and for the Miami Dolphins. A youth state tournament site selection tour brought a small group to Fantasy Springs Lanes and Casino one year. Diddy said she had to use the restroom, but ended up with pockets of quarters from the casino. She would’ve gambled more if she wasn’t dragged off of the casino floor. Board meetings on Sundays in the fall were short and to the point with Diddy because football season had begun. I believe there were a couple times that she yelled “YESSSSS” during a meeting while secretly watching the game through a glass wall or reflection. Those are the fun moments that we will all dearly miss. Diddy’s pure honesty and upfront demeanor are qualities that we should see more often in others, and ones that we will always remember with Diddy. I know that she is making a difference- wherever she is- because she did with us.
- California USBC State Scratch Tournament Director 10 years (Tournament has been renamed the Diddy Watts Youth State Singles Championships)
- NLAC USBC Youth City Tournament offers the Girls All-Events Champion the “Diddy Watts Scholarship Award”
Gary started bowling in the late 50’s and early 60’s in a travel league at Reseda Bowl. Life happened and he stopped bowling until the late 70’s when he got back to bowling at Panorama Bowl. After retiring from construction in 1990, Gary bowled at Bowlerland and started working as the Junior Program Director. In 1991 he took over running the special needs bowling league from New Horizons & is starting his 25th year next month. When the LA City Parks & Rec. Dept. had budget cuts, Gary took over running their bowling league. He also continued to hold the All-City Adaptive Tournament (started by LA Parks & Rec Dept 38 yrs. ago) for the past 4 yrs.
Gary is a USA Bronze Certified Coach in bowling and a Junior Olympic Coach Levels I & II. He was a bowling Official at the 1999 Special Olympics World Games in No. Carolina, the Bowling Competition Manager at the 2014 SoCal Special Olympics Fall Games and most recently was Bowling Competition Manager for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in LA in July.
Besides bowling at least 2 weekly leagues forever, Gary also has bowled on the Senior PBA Tour. To date, he has four 299 games, six 300 games and two 800 series. Gary has volunteered for various other organizations aside from bowling. He volunteered for 18 months with the Ventura County Corrections/Probation Dept, volunteered with the Police Dept. in working their “DARE” program & their “Jeopardy” program, volunteered with the Van Nuys Business Watch and volunteer for various events for the LAFD Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighters Fund, for which I have received am award for Volunteer of the Month. I have also been awarded “Volunteer of the Year” from DOVIA -SFV (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies – San Fernando Valley).
I have ran numerous fund raisers over the years including two Jeopardy events, two “Bowl for the Cure” events, 12 annual fund raisers for LAFD WODFF, one for New Horizons & Angels bowling league and one for Special Olympics World Games.
All of these opportunities came from my involvement in Bowling, for which I am very grateful.