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Sterling M. Ragsdale was born in Kenbridge, Va. In the 1960s, he started league bowling at Bowl America Town Center, where he also began working with youth bowlers. After Town Center closed in 1971, he started bowling and coaching at Bowl America Glassmanor.
At Glassmanor, he and Martha Burton coached children as young as six years old, putting these youngsters at ease as they learned the game of bowling. “Mister Ragsdale” had a genuine love and affection for all of the 100-plus children in the league. He knew each one by name as he mentored, coached, and always made himself available to the bowlers. He never seemed to miss a Saturday morning league session, and you could always depend on seeing him. He would stay at the center to ensure that all of the children had a way home or else he personally drove them home to assure their safety.
He thought nothing of arranging transportation to all of the local tournaments so that the children who wanted to participate had an opportunity to do so. He traveled with the children to all the Virginia State and Eastern Regional tournaments, even though his only biological child who participated in the sport was a granddaughter. While at these events, he would monitor the hotel hallways until the early morning hours to make sure that all the children were accounted for and in their rooms and then later ready at the designated hour so they would be on the bus when it was time to go.
When Glassmanor closed, its youth program moved to Jackson Bowl as did Mister Ragsdale. He continued coaching there while providing an extraordinary service to many former Glassmanor bowlers who did not have transportation from their former center by picking them up in his truck and driving them to and from Jackson Bowl.
Mister Ragsdale also was instrumental in encouraging parents such as Jane Andrews to become a youth coach, which she did and worked with him for more than five years.
During all this time, he demonstrated a love for the game as well as for the youths he was involved with. He formed lasting relationships with the kids from the time some of them were bantams and continuing through their adult lives, promoting their continued interest and growth in the sport. He has been a constant source of inspiration to all of the children who bowled in the youth league, some of whom he visits on occasion as his health has permitted.
On the lanes, his highest game is 278 and his best series is 680. His highest average is 188, and it’s currently 169. He is also a member of the Greater Washington Bowling Senate.
He has been married to Constance for almost 30 years and has four children, 11 grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.
Sterling M. Ragsdale has unselfishly donated many of his adult years in helping to promote and develop youth bowlers. A special spot has been reserved for him in the Nation’s Capital Area Bowling Association Hall of Fame.