WATERTOWN — Rob Mushtare’s achievements on a national level have finally won him the highest recognition locally.
Mushtare, a Carthage high school graduate who lives in Watertown, was one of 10 area bowlers elected into the Watertown Bowling Association Hall of Fame in September. The honor came one day before Mushtare swept his way to the organization’s city championship.
Mushtare, who gained national attention as a teenager in 2006 after bowling two United States Bowling Congress-approved 900 series, has rolled thirty-one 300 games in his career and twenty 800 series. He has posted the national high average and high series once apiece and won three state titles.
Mushtare, now 33 with a fiancee and three children, was inducted along with men’s bowlers Lynn Burke, Dann Venton, Larry Knight and Rich Steria, and women’s bowlers Linda Knight, June Calhoun, Mary Weston, Patti Signor and Brittany Steria.
“It kind of sparked me back, because it got just kind of dull for awhile,” said Mushtare, who has competed in several Pro Bowling Association events. “To get recognized for my accomplishments and everything, in the short few years that I’ve been (doing it) — there’s a lot of people who have been doing this a lot longer than I have, so it’s very humbling at 33.”
Mushtare, who works on Fort Drum, bowls regularly at Pla-Mor Lanes in Watertown, competing in leagues Mondays and Fridays. He also bowls Wednesdays at Harrisville Lanes in Harrisville, and tries to hit tournaments outside the area when he can.
Mushtare is also a member of the Watertown Bowling Association board as it attempts to revitalize the organization through events such as the city championship and Hall of Fame selections. Both were annual events as recently as 15-to-20 years ago before fading away as the sport continues to struggle to bring in new, younger members.
But the association was determined to host the city championship again. Mushtare’s victory Sept. 18 actually was for the 2020 crown as the championship date was repeatedly pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mushtare said the association will host another city championship for the 2021 title this month.
“We’re trying to revive it in a way, trying to build the interest back up,” Mushtare said.
“It’s tough,” he added about attracting new bowlers. “We have a few younger (bowlers) that have just come up the last few years. But there’s a bit of a gap between them and the next ones coming up so it’s going to be a few years, there just isn’t the older kids into it like there used to be. That’s the main reason why we’re looking to get something going, get it sparked again, get the youth back involved because without them it will die out.”
Mushtare rolled through the double-elimination, match-play tournament in September, winning all of his matches to claim his first city championship. The veteran bowler has posted a high of 236 this year.
Mushtare, who as a teen was the first bowler from New York State to roll a 900 series, said he hasn’t bowled in any PBA events since participating in the PBA Players Championship in February 2018 in Columbus, Ohio.
“(I) haven’t bowled any PBA events in like three years but a lot of that is because of the COVID stuff, travel restrictions, with work and stuff like that, so it makes it tough,” Mushtare said.
But he hasn’t given up on the goal of winning that national title.
“Winning a PBA title is still an aspiration of mine,” he said. “I’m not done until I accomplish that.”