Applications were received from some of the “best” of our youth bowlers in California and after the difficult task of lengthy and careful review of the candidate packages, we take great pride in revealing to you….. The “Best of the Best” for our 2010 Star of Tomorrow $1,000 Scholarship Award.

NICOLE NALANI SHEPARD is the 18 year old daughter of Tom and Laura Shepard of Goleta, California. Nicole was always an achiever and all during her elementary school days her grades were stellar. She entered Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta with high aspirations for a college education. Nicole was selected to Who’s Who for outstanding Middle School and High School students three times and was invited to attend both the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law and Medicine in Washington D.C. She was a member of the Junior Statesman of America, The National Honor Society, and the California Scholastic Federation. By the time Nicole reached her Junior year, she did not feel challenged enough academically. So, while attending Dos Pueblos, she enrolled in classes at Santa Barbara City College. In that same year, Nicole passed the California High School Proficiency Exam, meeting all the requirements of the NAIA colleges, and so, was accepted as a freshman student at Santa Ana College, which of course, forced her to move closer to school, and is currently living in Brea. At the time of her transfer to the college level, Nicole was maintaining a GPA of 3.68 and in a class of 560 students, she was in the top 183.

Nicole was introduced to Bumper Bowling at the tender age of four at Zodo’s Bowling Center in Goleta where her mother coached the youth and father operated the pro-shop. While moving up through the youth program, Nicole became a true leader, holding offices as Secretary, Vice-President and President. When Santa Barbara Association, had a Youth Leadership Program, she would attend the meetings with her mother. While on the bowling lanes, Nicole grew extremely competitive in league play, as well as local, state and national tournaments. Immediately following the move to Brea, Nicole obtained membership in the Orange County Youth USBC and enrolled in the Jr. Gold Draft Youth League at Yorba Linda Lanes. In that league, she is currently carrying an average of 182 on a certified sport shot pattern. (This average converted under USBC Rule #202, is equivalent to a 196 on standard lane conditions). To date, Nicole has to her credit a high series of 755 and a 300 game.

In 2008, Nicole stepped up her bowling competition with commitment to the JAT, (Junior Amateur Tour) winning her first JAT Title at the season opener. She completed that JAT season winning the Tournament of Champions Title, earning the Farm Club Rookie of the Year Award and currently is the strongest girl in the Open Division. This season she averaged 209.4 for 76 games at seven different bowling centers including three sport PBA patterns and is not intimidated when going head-to-head with the more powerful high reving boys. She makes it known she is in the hunt for a spot on the JAT 2009-10 All-Star Team. Nicole is also a member of the JST (Junior Scratch Tour) and the JBT (Junior Bowlers Tour).

Since 2001, Nicole has competed in the Santa Barbara County Youth Association tournaments as well as the SBC Bowling Festival and was awarded the SBC Youth Scholarship Award, which is based on academic and bowling achievements. In 2007 Nicole, sister Maile and two friends won the California State Team Championships. Nicole captured 1st place twice both in Team Event and All-Events and a 1st Place in the SBC Princess Event. She has competed in the California State Youth Tournaments since 2001 and captured a first place team finish. Of recent, she won the California State Scratch Tournament in Visalia and was a Pepsi Tournament Regional winner for  District #5. Nicole has a JBT title with her win in the Arizona Doubles and…being the girl with the highest average in the Jr. Gold Draft Scratch League at Yorba Linda has earned an entry into the chance for the PBA Showdown.

Nicole has numerous honors to her credit. In 2008, she made Santa Barbara County Association history by becoming the youngest female to bowl a 300 game at the age of 16, and, the only father/daughter to bowl 300 games. She qualified for Junior Gold in Detroit and although finishing in the middle of the pack, was solicited by two different college coaches to bowl on their collegiate teams. In 2009, Jr. Gold in Indianapolis, Nicole placed 24th, the top girl finisher from California. and has qualified to compete in the 2010 event in July. Nicole has been offered a collegiate bowling scholarship by Texas Southern University and was recently contacted by Wichita State University, a decision she will make after Jr. Gold in July.

When on break from college and in the Santa Barbara area, Nicole earns her community service credits as a Santa Barbara Zoo Camp Counselor; working at several Vacation Bible Schools; and as a nanny to two small children. Nicole is a member of Young Life and the Harvest Christian Fellowship Youth Group and…. the Cake and Bake Club.

Although Nicole strives to strengthen and achieve her goals in higher education and her bowling career, she has not lost sight that her family is the most important part of her life, for they have been and will continue to be, her backbone of support in all her endeavors.

SPENCER JON DUKES, more often referred to by his middle name, is the 17-year old son of Spencer and Sarina Dukes of San Diego. Jon is currently a senior at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. Although Jon’s father has traveled at sea a great deal of the time with the United States Navy, Jon never faltered in his responsibilities to his mother; his 15-year old sister Kimberly; and to himself, to excel beyond his own pre-set boundaries. All through elementary school and high school Jon has made the Academic Honor Roll. From 2004 to present he has received numerous Honors of Excellence in Citizenship, English, Math, Music, Religion, Science, and Spanish as well as an Outstanding Achievement Award in various areas of specific english assignments and has received personally written letters from math teachers complimenting him on being such a wonderful student. At no surprise, Jon maintains a High School GPA of 4.13.

Jon is a member and attends weekly meetings of the school’s Key Club; The PAPIA (Asian Pacific Islander Association); The Science Club; and Jazz Band. He volunteers for the Key Club “Neighborhood Face-Lifts projects; PAPIA’s traditional Filipino and Samoan Dances for Community Events; The Science Club’s Special Events; and community performances by the Jazz Band.

Besides being an extraordinary scholar, Jon has become a gifted musician. Since the fifth grade he remained focused on his violin skills. In seventh grade he earned Principle Second Violinist of the Middle School Orchestra and by eighth grade reached his goal as Concertmaster of the Intermediate Orchestra. Jon has participated in the local Honor Orchestra for five years and performed with them at the Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego. Jon’s goal while in high school… to become Concertmaster. All through high school he practiced day and night and it paid off, he is currently First Chair of Violins for his school’s Symphony Orchestra. In numerous competitions he has received no less than a Superior or Gold rating.

Jon bowled his first game at age seven and he knew on that first day that he wanted to pursue bowling at a higher level. He became a youth league bowler at age eight and as years went by, he began participating in more and more tournaments. He got his first taste of victory with a third place finish in a local Junior Bowler’s Tour Tournament. From that point on, he was hooked. He lived, slept, and ate bowling at that point in his life. Although Jon is primarily a self-taught bowler, he has been receiving occasional coaching the last couple of years from Barry Brown, Youth Coach at Admiral Robinson Bowling and Recreation Center. In 2007 Jon received a $400 Scholarship and a Trophy for a 1st Place finish in the 13th Junior World Team Challenge. He finished the 2008-09 season with a 204 average, an 824 high series and a 300 game. He currently carries a 196 and 220 in his two leagues and strives to protect his Title of 1st place in the Junior Masters Bowling League for the past four seasons. Jon also just shot his second 300 game on February 20.  Jon has supported the SDUSBC tournament events and of recent, came away the winner of his division in their BVL Tournament finals. In all, he has built up over $3,000 in Scholarships from his tournament wins.

Not only does Jon set a wonderful example in his pursuit of being a better bowler, he has been a role model for the younger youth bowlers. He is a member of the San Diego USBC, attending the monthly meetings, and often presenting his ideas on fundraising events and how to make the Youth Bowling more fun. He authored some rule changes for the SDUSBC Youth All-Star Team; and has represented SDUSBC at our California USBC Annual Meetings. Jon is always one of those who volunteers to “go caroling” at the local V.A. Hospital at Christmas time. Not only has he volunteered to be the captain of his team in the Admiral Robinson World Team Challenge the past three years, he arrives early to league play to pass out recaps and league sheets, and he volunteers an average of 45 minutes each week coaching the younger youth bowlers during league play.

Since age five. Jon has kept himself mentally and physically fit through his involvement with martial arts. He has the ranking of Third Degree Black-Belt. He serves the Martial Arts Club as Historian and has always lived by the organization’s theory of “living with morality and honor“. Adding to his versatility in accomplishments, Jon is a CPR Certified and has a California Driver’s License for over a year and proudly has a clean record of no citations or accidents.

With the continued loving support of his immediate and extended family members, Jon has his goals set on becoming a Martial Arts Instructor; maintaining the position as Concertmaster and…earning the title as a Professional Bowler.

The formal presentation of awards to both of these wonderful “Stars” will take place at our California USBC Annual Meeting, Sunday, June 13th at the Fremont Marriott-Silicon Valley in Fremont.