Thursday, April 28, 2011

Steve Barker's 23 Questions: Wade Thompson

We wait four months for it to arrive and "bam", it's all over. For those of us who didn't win our Provincial Open, it's a long summer and fall until qualifying finally begins again. For those who took home Gold and will be representing their Province in B.C., the quest for a National title is still ongoing.

Here in the southern part of Ontario, our week in Hamilton started on Wednesday with the first shift of Senior teams, followed by the "Hall of Fame Game". And wasn't it awesome to see some of our Legends out there, including Al Snow who, now into his eighties, shot a 229. Also putting on a great performance was Donny Betts, who's always been one of my personal idols. He won the "Hall of Fame" Game, and then went on to average 255 for the week while playing for the Niagara Mixed Team.

In the 1st five games of Singles on Wednesday, both defending champs started out well as Connie Ward shot 1339 and Terry Little put a bad first game aside to shoot 1418. Connie would have an even-better second day to finish with 2747 for 10, good enough to qualify second. Terry went on to shoot 2649, and finished 12th.

There were other fireworks on Wednesday as well, including Wade Thompson who started with a 249, then shot 399 and 418 before struggling a bit the last 2 games. Wade would go on to have another great day on Thursday, putting him in top spot for the men with a 10-game total of 2859. Leading the list for the women was Erica Bortolin, who put together a 10-game score of 2831. We will get back to the Singles competition later.

In the ever-popular Senior Mixed division, the crew from Ottawa Valley qualified 1st, and went on to beat Tri-County in the final. Congratulations to Rejean Menard, Bernie Menard, Dave Anderson, Rose Graves and Michelle Balcombe, as well as their coach George Chrulenko.

The first ever Senior Singles stepladder final was also very exciting.

In the Women's final, Diane Martin from Western Ontario defeated the great Diane MacLeod of York-Simcoe 248-237.

On the Men's side, Peter Pettinger of Tri-County averaged 269 to win his first 3 games, climbing the ladder to meet Ottawa Valley's Rejean Menard in the final. In a tremendous match, Rejean's 305 bested Peter's 287 to give Rejean the title.

In the Mixed Team division, Grand River defeated Middlesex Elgin and Central Ontario on the way to playing Tri-County in the Final. Tri-County would take the Gold, led by Sean Westhaver's 322 in the final match. Joining Westhaver on the Gold Medal squad from Tri-County are Brian Pye, Will Daniel, Shasta Smith, Megan Flannigan, Cheryl Campbell and their coach Jim Muir. Kudos also go out to Kevin Joseph of Grand River, who shot 939 for his 3 games in the stepladder.

In the Ladies competition, the gals from Tri-County were once again dominant as they finished the round robin with 83 points, losing only once in the 13 games. Second after the round robin was Hamilton with 75. Finishing 3rd and 4th were Niagara and Ottawa Valley, having 65.5 and 63 points respectively. In the stepladder, Ottawa beat Niagara and Hamilton to play Tri-County in the final. In the final match, 300 games by Casey Ramey and Kayla Anderson were the difference as Tri-County was victorious once again, winning 5-3. Along with Casey and Kayla, the team includes Christine Mair, Kristi Lampman, Karole McDonnell, Kyla Smith and their coach Andrew Lampman.

In the Men's event, the round robin results were up in the air until the final game. The #1 seed went to Tri-County, which meant that all of their teams lead the round robin competition! Tri-County finished with 67.5 points, just 1 ahead of Hamilton. In third spot was Central Ontario followed by Grand River. In the first stepladder match, Central shot a solid 1333 to win 7-1. In the second match against Hamilton, they got even hotter, firing a 1453 to reach the finals. In the finals, Central would have to win twice to knock of the top seeded Tri-County. Central stayed on a nice roll and won both games to take the title. Their team, coached by Kevin Jepson includes Doug Brock, Mike Doherty, Jim Head, Wade Thompson, Ian Gawel and Dan Pike.

The Ladies portion of the Singles stepladder was an awesome display of talent. In the opening match, Lindsay Laporte defeated her Central Ontario teammate Melissa Llewellyn 290-252. Lindsay's job would get incredibly tougher as she would have to play against two Legends and one current Superstar to have a shot at the crown. In her next game, Lindsay shot a 269 to beat Brenda Pankoff. That meant that she'd have to play Connie Ward next. In a great semi-final game, Lindsay prevailed 304-261 to reach the final against top seed Erica Bortolin. The game was tight all the way, and Erica threw a strike in 9 and a double in the tenth to force Lindsay to have an amazing finish herself. Lindsay came up just short, as Erica won 299-290 in a superb match. Lindsay shot an impressive 1153 for her 4 games, and Erica added "Ontario Open Singles Champion" to her already awesome (and still growing) record. And true to her "23 Questions" interview previously, Erica claimed to have "no idea what the score was or what she needed going into the last two frames".

On the Mens side, Bobby Torraville defeated Huronia's Andrew Wilkie 297-234 in the first match. Bobby then lost to fellow Metro Toronto teammate Jeff Mawhinney 267-243. In the semi-final, Jeff threw a 336 at former champ Kris Babuik to reach the final. The final match saw an interesting scenario, as top seed Wade Thompson had already won with the Central Men, and with the new Nationals rule stating you could only play one event, a victory would mean that Wade would have a difficult decision to make. Wade would go on to win the final match for his 2nd Open Singles title. Wade has decided to bowl with his team at the Nationals in B.C., so Jeff Mawhinney will represent the O5 in Singles play. I had a chance to speak to Wade shortly after the Open, and you can read that interview at the end of this segment.

I'd like to offer my congratulations to our two "Rookie of the Year" winners. They were Brian Sillett of Tri-County, and Michele Boulter of Niagara who each averaged 262. Other fine performances from first-time Open participants included Katlyn Saar of Ottawa Valley (258 avg.), Mike Torraville of Huronia (242 avg., 408 single) and Tyler Wendel of Niagara (243 avg.).

Ah yes, and some of you may be wondering how our friend, Josh LeClair made out in his first Open, after many pain-staking years of coming close. (If you haven't read Josh's earlier article here: you should!) Well he did just fine, averaging 243 for the Western Mixed team, while playing most games in the leadoff or anchor spots.. And now that the gorilla's off his back, he can't wait to come back next year.

Kudos also to Brad Rowland of York-Simcoe, who averaged over 280 to set the new 13-game record.
The High-Single winners were Ian Gavel (425) of Central, and Kim Utley (395) from Grand River.

As always, thanks to Sid Morris, Nith Valley Construction all of the sponsors and the O5 staff and volunteers who made these championships possible!

A special thank-you once again to outgoing President Dave Post and also to long-time Executive Director Al Hong, who will be retiring this summer. Both men have dedicated their life to our sport and we greatly appreciate it!!

As Jeff Young mentioned in Monday's blog, many positive things came from our Ontario Open. One of these is the staggering number of "hits" to the O5 website during the competition. Traffic on peaked on Saturday, with over 130,000 hits!!

The Open is huge in all provinces and we encourage everyone to post and look at results from across the land.

I am continuing to attempt to take "23 Questions" nationwide, and have some correspondence in the works with bowlers from around the country. I hope to get to your favourite player soon.

Following his amazing week in Hamilton, this week's "23 Questions" features a quick chat with Wade Thompson.

Wade, it'd be silly to ask how you're feeling after such an emotional high, so I won't ask the obvious. Having two reserved seats for the "Head Table" at the banquet must be an awesome feeling. Can you reflect back and tell us how this whole bowling journey began?
I've been bowling for as long as I can remember. My grandfather bowled, and my dad bowled, and he got my mom into it. I don't know how old I was the first time I threw a ball down a lane, but I do know my first recorded game was when I was 2 years old. (My mom still keeps the score sheet in her bowling bag). I started YBC at Queensway bowl in Toronto when I was 5.

Your first Nationals appearance was about 10 years ago in Winnipeg. Is that when your adult career really took off?
2002 was a good year. It was the first time I won the Zone Qualifier, so that was a milestone for sure, and our men's team went to Nationals for the first time in a while, but I think if I had to pick one period of time it would have to be 2005-2006. I gained a lot of confidence from winning the singles at the 2005 Ontario Open. I gained more from playing well at the Nationals, but I think the biggest factor was making the stepladder again at the 2006 Provincials.

This is your 11th Open, and 6 of those years you made Singles, which is impressive qualifying out of Central Ontario. And in those years, you've made the Singles stepladder 4 times and won with teams 4 times! To what do you attribute your Open success?
I think the fact that my entire season is focused on the Open plays a big part. September to November is for getting ready for qualifying. From mid December to Easter I'm preparing for the Open. I read Jeff's blog a couple of weeks back about the Open, and he spoke about how some people base the success of their year on how well they do at the Open. I'm one of those guys. If the Open's a failure, the year has been wasted.

The other big factor is the quality of the teammates I have had. You don't have a chance in teams without having 6 really good bowlers, and coming out of a strong zone like Central, I've been fortunate to have been on some great teams. The teams I've won with have included players like Liz Nicoll, Jason Procher, Bill Schwemlein, Jim Head, John Mattioli, Ian Gawel, Brian Kaye, all of whom have won multiple times in the Open, in Masters, and various other tournaments.

What players and coaches have helped to influence your career at each level?
My dad was the biggest influence on me through YBC. He was there every week, and for a long time he was the only person I would listen to. I met Joe Zammit when I was first starting out at Queensway Bowl, and he has also been a big influence, much more so as an adult.

As far as players go, that's a much tougher question. My dad was always a 250 – 260 average bowler, but he wasn't a tournament bowler, so I had very limited exposure to the great players that were around as I grew up in the 80s. I played a couple of Master Bantams with guys like Basil Gasdia, John Renouf, and I think I played one with Connie D'Alessandro. At the adult level, just playing against so many great players has pushed me to get better.

To put it mildly, you are "ultra" intense on the lanes. How do you think this helps you, and can it also be detrimental at times?
I'll start with how it can be detrimental, because that to me is the more obvious side of it. I think it has hurt my team in the past, more so early on than now, but I've seen it happen. If I'm not playing well, what people see is negative, and that vibe can affect a team negatively, just like the same intensity level can have a lifting affect when the vibe is positive.

For me personally, I feel like that intensity is essential for me to be playing well. Even if I'm struggling, and it looks like I'm about to explode, my mind is working in overdrive trying to figure out what's wrong. I never throw shots away out of anger, it's not like that. I just can't contain the emotion. I tried once, for a few months, and it didn't work out very well. I played horrible, I felt terrible, and I was stressed out like you wouldn't believe. I'm better off letting out the frustration, because it allows me to focus on the next shot.
When I'm playing well, the intensity keeps me focused. The one thing that hurts me there is that if I get on a run I can get moving too fast, and that's a hard thing to control.

Did your past experience help you in the Singles finals, with the confidence that you've won before?
I think it helped. I definitely wasn't as nervous as I was the first time I played in the stepladder. I've gotten more and more comfortable every time I've been out there. The first time I made it, I remember looking back at the crowd when I walked out and thinking “Wow, that's a LOT of people”. The “butterflies” that that look back caused were intense enough that I didn't look back again until the game was over.
Your team went on a great run during the Stepladder, beating Grand River, Hamilton and then Tri County twice. In addition to your own previous Stepladder experience in Teams and Singles, how much of a factor was it that 3 members of your team had won previously? Or were you simply on a roll?
It was a little of both I think. We got off to a great start against Grand River, and carried that through the match against Hamilton. Once we reached Tri County, we slowed down a little, and I think that's where some of the past experience really took over. The early part of the game was a struggle, but everyone fought through it in the middle and we got a good lead going into the last third of the game. The 4th game was the same. A bit of a slow start and then Mike and Jim took off and we took over through the middle of the game.

After your great stepladder run to win the Men's Team event, you were the top Singles seed but knew you'd have to decide which event to play at Nationals if you were to win the Singles. Was this on your mind in the final match or had you already made your decision?
I had already made the decision. I pretty much knew what I was going to do, but I spoke to Al Hong right after we had finished the Team stepladder to clarify the rule, and what would happen depending on what my choice was. Once that conversation was over, I spoke to a couple of the guys on my team and told them that regardless of the outcome of the Singles, I'd be playing Teams at Nationals.

There was a really nice moment at the Open banquet when the announcement was made that you'd chosen to play Teams at Nationals. What went into that decision and might it have been different if you hadn't previously had a chance to play Singles at the Nationals?
My previous Singles appearance, to be honest, actually had the reverse affect. It made it that much harder to let it go. I came so close to winning the Nationals in 2005, and I've wanted nothing more than to get another shot at it ever since. I can't say for sure how much different it would have been if I had never played Singles at Nationals, but I don't think it would have changed my decision.

At the end of the day, the decision didn't just affect me, it affected 5 other guys. For me to leave the team for my own personal goal would be selfish, and unfair to them. We set a goal as a team to win the Provincials, and then to win the Nationals. We were fortunate to be successful with the first step, and there is no way I could abandon the team halfway through.

Well Said!! Congratulations again and good luck in B.C.!

As I mentioned above, keep the comments and feedback coming in. Many results from around the country are posted on the respective provincial associations' websites, so check them out. Also, Jeff has posted his contact info on the top corner of the page, so feel free to send any stories or info his way.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Well, another Ontario Open has come and gone leaving some of us with dreams attained, dreams dashed and maybe dreams discovered. This was the first Provincial Open tournament that has been played since this site was born and I will say one thing; This is the first year that I’ve spent the majority of my time off the lane talking about nothing but bowling. The most important thing though, is that it was POSITIVE talk about bowling.

I would like to say, before I go any further on this blog, congratulations to all those competed in their provincial championships and especially those who have walked away with some medals around their necks. A big special congratulations go to all those who will be competing for their respective provinces at the national championships in Surrey BC in June.

One great experience from this year’s event was that I was able to spend considerable time talking to many of the people who have spent time and energy contributing to this site to make it what it is and I can honestly say that, as long as there are people out there like yourselves working hard to make the game what it is today, 5pin bowling has a bright future ahead. Talking to everyone this week has made me realize one important thing; that this site seems to be doing what I’ve originally intended it to do, but at the same time, must grow leaps and bounds to make it what I ultimately want it to be. The content currently on this site is merely a stepping stone to where I’d like it to be.

You may notice that there is a new easy to find email link in the top left corner of this site. I encourage everyone to use this email link to offer suggestions, send comments or questions. With more feedback we can take our thoughts in the direction of what readers would find useful. The more we have to go on, the more useful content we can supply.

One feature we’d like to try to implement is a library of 5pin bowling YouTube videos to watch. Over the next couple weeks, we’re going to search YouTube to give everyone a single source to find videos of people bowling 5pin. This will hopefully lead into something that I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now; YouTube coaching videos.

I’m very open to hearing what people would like to see here on this site and I would really like to hear what people want to see. This site is for helping bowlers and the best way to achieve our goal is to hear from bowlers and try to cater to their needs. And if you happen to see me in a tournament, feel free to approach me and talk about bowling, this site or anything. Our goal here is to promote the game and work to make it better, and it all starts with conversation.
Jeff Young

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Time For The Open -John Honeyford

As we approach the end of another bowling year, the big weekend of the bowling season is upon us. A few provinces have already had their Open championships, and the
rest will contend for their respective crowns over Easter weekend. For many it is the most exciting week of the year – a time to renew friendships and to partake in what the competitive side of bowling is really all about.
Bowling for a national championship in 5-Pin has been around since 1953, but previous incarnations actually go back many years before that. The CBA was created in late 1926 following a meeting at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, and part of their mandate was to create a national championship for 5-Pin Bowling. The first CBA tournament was held in March 1927 at Karry’s Terauley (on the site of what is now the north end of the Eaton Centre) in Toronto. The event was held in alternating seasons at Karry’s and Olympia Gerrard (that building is still there) for over 20 years, though the CBA tourney was primarily an Ontario event. It grew to a point in 1950 where there were over 5000 entries covering all of the events (teams/doubles/singles). There were also classic and industrial-team divisions in later years.
Meanwhile, the 5-Pin game was growing by leaps and bounds in the West with the advent of City Championships that were held in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, and Vancouver with the establishment of associations, starting with Winnipeg in 1928. Edmonton held their first City finals in 1930, and other cities followed. In late 1944 the Western Canada Association was created and the first Championship was held in April 1945 reporting by telegraph between the 6 cities.
Bill Hawrylak of Regina, who led the Western association and Charlie Hill from the CBA in Toronto got together and over a couple of years they devised a plan to hold a true ‘Dominion’ Championship, and in 1953 this came to be, despite the fact that the west and the east were playing with 2 different scoring systems. They agreed to use both systems for 5 games each across 10 games.
The singles finalists to determine the Eastern singles representative came from district roll-offs, one of which was the Toronto and District Match Play Championships which were held at the old Ace Bowling Centre on the Danforth in Toronto, with a 10 game qualifier followed by 5-game single knockout elimination matches to the end from a round of 64. Tommy Mallon from Toronto defeated Tommy Sutcliffe 1414-1381 in front of some 600 spectators (the old Ace was a 2-floor 32 lane house so it would have been a bit tight). The Eastern final match was held on a specially installed lane at the CNE during the Sportsmen’s Show sponsored by Molson’s, with Tommy Mallon winning the 10 game final and $500 with 2636. The team final was won by Seagram’s from the City Major League in Toronto who defeated the Ace Bowling Centre team by 23 pins at Karry’s with 6015 for 5 (24 teams).
In Regina the first ‘Dominion’ championship was held. There was only a Men’s singles and Men’s team event the first year which was held at the Bolodrome. The Regina men won, and Tommy Mallon won the singles with 2393. Molson’s came on as a sponsor in 1954 for the national event held in Windsor with both Ladies and Men’s teams and singles competing. A yearly national event was born, and later in 1960 the mixed team event was added.
It became practice to hold the Western and Eastern events and then immediately hold the Nationals on the following 2 days in one of the host cities. During the 60’s most of the events were 8-game total pin fall formats, and the 1964 national event was particularly memorable as it was held in the Regina Armories, with Brunswick installing 6 brand new lanes along with A-50 Pinsetters. Billy Hoult spared a right side split in the 7th game of the 10-game final, and then went on to win the title in the last game with a hit in the 9th, the first one in the 10th, and a corner spare to win by 15 pins in front of a capacity crowd.
The disputes over the counter pin ensued in the late 60’s and this caused the Open Nationals to be cancelled from 1969-71. In 1972, the Open resumed in Saskatoon, and Peterson points were used in singles for the first time. In 1973 they reverted to straight pin fall for singles (12 games) in Winnipeg, and in 1979 the 8-point system was used for teams for the first time.
The numbers of bowlers and zones continued to grow through the peak years in the 70’s, and eventually CBC extended their coverage of 5-Pin to include live coverage of the Open Nationals singles starting in 1989 in Red Deer which were broadcast yearly until 1996. Who can ever forget Ernie Afaganis (!).
The increase in the volume of newspaper archives continues to bring out many stories from the old days of the Opens across the country and its predecessors that are quite fascinating to read. There is definitely one thing can that can be drawn from reading through these articles, and it is that the spirit and passion continues with the people who play this game today, along with all of the good memories that it creates. Have fun, bowl well.      

Thursday, April 14, 2011


From April 10-16, we are celebrating "National Volunteer Week" so once again, I am putting my regular interview feature on hold to honour the men and women who dedicate their time so that we can enjoy the game we love.

For those of us who grew up in the YBC, we fondly recall the coaches, secretaries and program directors who worked so hard to make our game fun. While we saw them each week at the lanes, we didn't get to see the amount of time they spent throughout the week doing the standings and stats, preparing tournaments and all of the other organizational duties involved in running a successful program. Their workload is much greater than most people realize. For those of us with kids who bowl, helping out the other kids while we are there can just be a fun way to stay busy, since we're there anyways. Some programs, such as ours' at Neb's Fun World have 3 shifts and some of the volunteers are there ALL DAY, from 8:30 in the morning until almost 4:00 in the afternoon! These are the folks who deserve a pat on the back, especially since some of them don't even have kids in the program. Even for YBC tournaments, much more is involved than the average child or parent would realize.

Here in Ontario, there are 12 Zone Reps who attend several meetings each year to plan for the Zone and Provincial events, which are overseen by Melanie Girard and the Bowl Ontario staff, who do an outstanding job at running the program. The average bowler would have no idea how much planning goes into booking lanes, making lane draws, lane sheets, ordering awards, etc. This list goes on and on.

Even in the adult ranks, the average league requires qualified folks to ensure that things run smoothly. League executives, especially secretaries and treasurers put in more hours than people would think.

Those who have been fortunate enough to participate in a National Championship at any level quickly understand how much work is involved to run such a large event, and that you definitely need lots of volunteers. Our Championships are always in good hands, whether run by Bowl Canada, the C5PBA or the MBAC, but running events of this magnitude wouldn't be possible without a spirited team of helpers to take care of transportation, souvenirs, 50/50 tickets, being a Judge of Play, meals, or any other tasks that may arise.

Many people also forget to realize that the individuals who sit on our Provincial Board of Directors are also volunteers. Until I got involved with our Bowling School here in Ontario, I had no clue as to how much planning and how many meetings were involved to ensure that all of the bases were covered with each event. These people really know what they're doing! In speaking to Al Hong, himself a LIFE MEMBER of the C5PBA who has played a huge role in our game from his time working out west, to running the C5 for many years, and who has been Executive Director of the O5PBA since 1994, he gave me an idea of what is involved in being a Board Member. The O5 holds 12 monthly meetings each year in addition to overseeing all of the other committee meetings for events such as the Bowling School, Open or Convention. In total, members attend approximately 20 meetings per year on top of the prep work they do on their own, and don't forget that they also attend and run the events.

The Open itself, is a huge undertaking for the O5. On top of all the work with the host committee, many Board members are there all week starting with preparing the centre and setting up the bleachers on Monday, and running the Press Conference on Tuesday, and finalizing everything for the competition to begin on Wednesday.

Although there has been a bit of chatter about the possibility of moving the Open out of Sherwood, the one thing that would be difficult to replace is the awesome staff of volunteers provided by the local Hamilton Association. According to Al, on top of the O5 staff, approximately 30 people give up their time to help out each Easter! It would be difficult for any other zone to replicate that support!

Many additional organizations also rely heavily on volunteers including each provincial Masters Association, as well as Y.A.B.A. here in Ontario.

Other unsung heroes in our game are the people who put in countless hours with our local associations. I recently spoke to Heather Cresswell, a long-time (that sounds OLD- she's not, she just started YOUNG) member of the York-Simcoe board who currently serves as their President. According to Heather, the YS5PBA holds 8 general monthly meetings during the season, plus one annual general meeting. In addition, they hold 8 executive meetings plus 1 to prepare for convention and also 1 in the late-summer to prepare for the upcoming season. Oh, and did I mention that she also works with the O5 helping with marketing and attends 8-10 of those meetings each year. In addition to Heather's work, her husband John is the Vice-President of the O5PBA and also sits on the York-Simcoe Board. Heather figures that John attends close to 30 meetings a year between his two posts. And don't forget, all of this doesn't include all of the time they spend planning for and running tournaments throughout the year. And in case you thought I was finished with the Heather and John, they also both work a shift of Bingo each week to help with fundraising! Amazing dedication!! (And don't forget to buy your 50/50 tickets from Heather at the Open.)

Many of our amazing volunteers wear different hats in representing our game, but I'm not sure anyone has held more jobs than our own O5 President, Mr. Dave Post.

Dave has served for many years in just about every capacity imaginable. In the YBC, Dave has been Program Director, coach and even Zone Rep. Dave has also coached in 22 consecutive Opens and has taken 2 Youth Challenge teams to Nationals, winning gold in 1999. As a volunteer in the adult ranks, Postey started with his local Board in Great Pine Ridge which later became part of Kawartha Lakes. In 1997, he moved on to the O5PBA Board and became our President in 2004, replacing one of his mentors, Jennifer Guay. Dave is also 1st V-P of the C5PBA and in 1997 was inducted into the Builders Division of our O5PBA Hall-of-Fame. When I spoke to Al Hong, he estimated that Dave attends approximately 45 meetings per year as well as 6 major tournaments. On top of all of the work he does at home preparing for everything, Postey spends about 100 days per year working on our sport! And keep in mind, many of those are weekends.

This will be Dave's last year serving as President of the O5, and on behalf of bowlers from coast-to-coast, and especially from those here in Southern Ontario, we thank him for everything he has done for our game and wish him well as he takes a well-deserved break to golf, spend time with his family and watch the Petes LOSE! (Sorry, I'm from Oshawa, had to throw that in!) Cheers Dave!!

As I mentioned, there are incredible people all across this land who dedicate their time and effort to make this great game more enjoyable for everyone. The next time you're having a blast playing the game you love, make sure you thank the people who made it possible!

As always, thanks for reading and feel free to add your own "National Volunteer Week" tribute in the "comments" section below, or on the FACEBOOK group.

For those participating, good luck in the Open next week!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting To Winning - Tom Paterson

It is natural to be nervous. This nervousness can work for you. Do you have to be nervous? There are never any absolute “have to’s” HOWEVER…nervousness is a sign that you are motivated, and that what you are about to do means something to you.

The more you want something – the greater the emotional and intellectual investment. So…know that IF you fall short of your goal and do not win…you may be very upset with yourself, despondent and simply feel really down. That is okay. In fact this is likely where the saying the pain and agony of defeat. All of this is natural.
If winning the championship is what you want, than know this…winning may be the most satisfying reward in competition BUT…Winning is not easy.

Winning takes commitment, and depending on just how far you want to go winning will also require sacrifice. Of course you can avoid the sacrifice part by simply not committing but then of course…you likely won’t win.

Being prepared is about stacking the odds in your favor. It is about building your success one brick at a time. In professional sports the athletes, coaches and owners frequently say…sport is all about winning. The Pro will say ‘They are in the business of winning.’ This contradicts reality. Focusing exclusively on winning without regard for the details of preparation and focus on the action of doing and living in the now – will most assuredly lead you down a path of disappointment and unfulfilled dreams.

There are no guarantees, therefore it is important to understand the difference between ‘I Will’ and ‘Having the Will’ BUT…if you commit, invest, sacrifice, focus on the details, focusing on the action of doing, and staying in the here and now…you will be putting yourself in the right place to give yourself the opportunity to win. Remember each and every time you compete you have opportunity to win, and winning tends to go to the prepared.

The most beautiful thing about commitment, investing, sacrificing, learning to focus on the detail, focusing on the action of doing, and staying in the here and now is that – you will find many rewarding things along the way. If you keep in mind that sport is ultimately about the test you will leave learning more than just how to win.

Learning Success
Sometimes all we really need is to self exam ourselves and from there we find our way. There are also things you can reflect on that help lead successful people to repeated success. What follows is exactly a list like that. Check it out. Of these strategies and habits what are you currently doing? What may you have gotten away from doing? And…what can you do? What follows is essentially a list of strategies and/or habits to get into, all of which help build a path to success.

Goal Setting –
Write it down
· Set reasonable and attainable goals that challenge you that are;
· High but achievable, specific rather than vague, measurable rather than subjective
· For every results goal identify 4 process goals (things you will do to get you to your result)

Take a measure of your commitment D.W.Y.S.Y.W.D. – 3weeks later
· Are you doing what you said you will do?
· Are you consistent sticking to your plan?
· Do you want this as much now as you did when you started?

Learn to “Keep a Healthy Perspective” by planning perspective right from the very beginning.
· You always have the power of choice - learn, focus on the upside, move on.
· When you have worked out the perspective you want to take into competition test it out by doing the mental check asking the following three questions of yourself:
o Does it make sense?
o Is it logical?
o Can I do it?

Learn to frame what you say
· Look at situations as a benefit rather than a loss. Find the competitive edge.
· Separate ‘self’ from the ‘act’ – what you do does not define who you are.
· It is not the experience BUT RATHER the meaning we give our experience that counts the most
· Praise your effort, persistence, perseverance, and determination

Rehearse your lessons learned
· Take what you have learned and rehearse them in your head and in your practices. So that your response becomes automatic
· Be glad you were there, what are all the upsides
· What you did today beats many other things, like…doing the dishes, staying late at work, dealing with a cranky kid.
· I learned so much just by being there! It was exciting, and I most definitely want to do the work to come back again.

What are the mental challenges you have put in front of yourself?
· I am not sure I can do this – I have never won this before.
· He is better than me
· I always screw up towards the end
· If I could only get that third strike

Who loves you?
· Usually your best and most consistent support comes from the people who love you. – Lean on Them
· Surround yourself with people that will be truthful and positive
· Remember you will be loved and respected no matter what
· Do it for you – more than for them
· What can you add to your game from others
· We can learn by watching and then emulating the skills, or mind set of others we admire

Journal it
· Many people only do half the job – they think it, but don’t bother to write it down.
· Writing down your reflections – gets your brain thinking in ways beyond ‘just thinking’
· Writing it down gives you an easy reference to refer back to.
· Mental notes not written down are forgotten more easily. You may recall the stand out moments but…not the little things that happened along the way to the ‘big moment’ that you.
· So you remember losing to the favorite of the tournament and how you wish you had it to do over again. What you forget is that you were doing well but when you missed your spare in the 4th frame you got down on yourself and stayed there for 3 frames.
· Confidence can be fleeting – having the opportunity to re-read and replay your successes can help build consistency with your successes

Friday, April 8, 2011

Riding The Pine - Steve Barker

As we get precariously closer to "Open" season, I'm putting my regular interview feature on hold for a week to discuss something different.
In an earlier post, Jeff wrote a great piece on the "lead-off" position in the lineup, so I  thought I'd give you my take on another spot in the order- the "bench". In my opinion, the bench or sub is one of the most important roles on a team and is often misunderstood and under-utilized. The use of the bench is also the most hotly debated issue when discussing how well a coach handles a team.
Most rookies or inexperienced players who are asked to start on the bench wrongly consider it a demotion or think that the coach is showing little confidence in them. Well, anyone who has had team success at a Provincial or National level can tell you that this is NOT the case. In almost every instance, the sixth player plays a vital role in the success of the team.
There are many ways that a bench player can help a team.
Firstly, they must stay upbeat and positive to help the squad's morale. Also, because the coach is usually watching the scores and the person on the lanes, the sub can also act as an assistant by lending an ear for a team-mate who is struggling and needs to vent their frustration. The sixth player can also be an additional set of eyes or ears for the coach, as well as someone the coach can talk to if they need a second opinion.
It is also vital that the person who doesn't start the game emits a feeling of confidence throughout the team. When you are in the starting line-up and are struggling, it's much easier to play when you have faith in the person who might be coming in. If the bench player is struggling with their game and their confidence, it makes the players who started the game "press" that much more.
And by staying upbeat and being a great "team" player who doesn't complain about their role, you make the coach's job easier and the team stronger!
As mentioned before, how a coach uses the bench position, and how aggressive he/she is at making a "pull" goes a long way in determining how a team will do.
The decision of who to sit is usually one of a coach's toughest. Many times a coach will have a plan heading into an event, only to have it blow up after a game or two. One of the determining factors for whom to start on the bench can be the experience of some of the team members.
If there are rookies or folks who haven't been there in a while on the team, some coaches (me included) like to get a newcomer's feet wet by starting them in the first game. Other coaches like to ease them in and start them on the bench. In many cases it also depends on the player and how their nerves are, as people handle different situations differently.
A coach will often have an idea of who is going to play Leadoff, 4th or Anchor, and have some options for the remaining positions.
Once someone proves themselves as effective off the bench, it can be hard for them to find a starting spot, as any coach loves the comfort of having someone there that they can rely on. For people who would rather bowl more than sit, being really good off the bench can be a double-edged sword! Coaches also struggle with the decision whether to start someone who just got pulled in the next game or to give them a break. For me, it again depends on the situation and the personalities involved.
The use of the sub also depends on the team. If the team is balanced from top-to-bottom, then the strategy is simpler and making the change should be easier. If there is a big difference in the quality or average of players on the team, then making moves becomes much more complicated. That is usually more evident on Ladies teams and Mixed teams where there can be a greater average differential.
The dynamic on Mixed teams has really changed since going from 7 players to 6 players.
When there were 7 members on a Mixed team, coaches usually played 3 guys and 2 girls with 1guy and 1 girl on the bench. Teams would usually set the lineup this way, unless they had very strong girls in which case they would occasionally start 3 girls and 2 guys, leaving 2 men on the bench. As long as there were always 2 or more women in the game, you could sub any way you wanted. Teams starting 3 guys and 2 girls would usually sub a guy for a guy and a girl for a girl. In an extreme case of strategy, if a team had some points wrapped up and wanted to "steal" another match, you could sub a weaker girl for a guy very late in a game that had a certain outcome, and then have the remaining guy try to steal the other match. And ladies, before you get offended, I am being "very" general with the "guys" and "girls" that I'm using as examples. Keep in mind that in most of these cases I'm referring to teams where the guys are 240+ and the lower girls on the Mixed teams are about 200.
In the current Mixed format with 3 guys and 3 girls, the coaching decisions are much tougher. Communication with the team before the event can be vital. In many cases coaches are faced with the conundrum of deciding how badly a 240-250 average player has to be struggling to pull them, if the bench player is around 200 in average. Especially if totals are close and the 4th or 5th player in the order suddenly falls apart late in the game! It's a tough call.
Be sure to keep in mind, that The Open at any level is a very long event, so a player's role and position can change drastically from the first game to the last.
While the proper utilization and effectiveness of the bench can energize a team, a weak or misused bench can also kill a team.
Personally, I strongly advocate being proactive when communicating with the sub and making changes. While you want to have confidence in your starters, I think that many coaches wait far too long before making a move. Of course, there are many factors that go into a coach's decision to pull the trigger. You must consider totals, matches, experience, whether someone is in a funk or simply needs to adjust, reputation, how long the sub's been sitting, etc.
As a general rule, I think moves (if necessary) should be made by the 5th or 6th frame at the latest, unless someone who started well goes completely south, or the team needs a momentum swing.
Often times, a coach will wait too long to make a move and then get "strung" along. Here's an example; let's say that four players on the team are playing well and one person is struggling, but that person's opponent is also struggling. The player picks a Head-pin in the 4th and the coach lets him finish the frame. It's the fifth frame and the coach is waffling. His player trickles the headpin and leaves the corner, but misses the spare. What to do? He decides to leave the player in, citing the fact that they're hitting the headpin. In the sixth frame, the player "just" misses the headpin on the first ball, the coach gives them a "stay-in shot" at the spare, but the player gets tapped and leaves the corner. Meanwhile, the opponent has either found his shot or, even worse, the opposition has pulled the player and "their" sub has come on strong to give the team a boost. A huge swing in momentum has taken place and when the coach does make a move, it's 2 frames more and 10 minutes longer that the sub has been sitting without throwing a ball.
I realize that this is an "example", but it's amazing how often it happens.
Another common error I see, is when a team has two or more people struggling, the coach waits too long to make a move because they can't decide which person to pull. In this case there's no wrong move- you've got to do something!
I think you can see by now why the Men's team I coached a few years ago called me "Captain Hook"!
Here are a few more reasons why I believe in being proactive in using your bench:
1) People play better when they don't sit too long. (Also, if you haven't used your sub the entire game, take advantage of any meaningless 10th frame shots to get a couple of practice balls in.) Depending on when they last threw, if your move is too late in the game, your sub will have more pressure and will be less "loose". Also, the longer they wait when the chance is there to make a move, the less confident they'll be after wondering "why the coach won't put them in".
2) A move can also give the rest of the team a "kick in the arse"! If you have a few people struggling, they will be looking over their shoulder wondering if they'll get the hook. Once the move is made and people know they're finishing the game, the culture shock can be healthy. In the "same boat", try to keep your sub in the loop so they have an idea of what you the coach, are thinking. This can help them prepare and be ready when called upon.
3) Get "MO" on your side. Nothing changes the tide in a match as quickly as someone coming off the bench to throw a strike- Don't let your opponents beat you to it!
People think I'm crazy (Jeff did ask last week if I'd lost my mind) when I tell them that my favourite position is the "bench". I enter the Open to win! It doesn't matter how much I play. I enjoy supporting my team without the mental and physical rigors of "that" many games. When I am called on, I look at it as a challenge with nothing to lose.
The bench position and its use have made the difference in helping teams to Championships. One of the great Metro Toronto teams of years passed saw Jim Swartzman come off of the bench to throw about 20 strikes in a row, over 3 games! How much do you think the rest of the team was able to freewheel, knowing that he could come in?
And when our Mixed Team won the Ontario Open to go to Winnipeg, the main reason was the unbelievable work of Lisa Groombridge and Ron Ryan coming in to "fill"!
And so, remember not to fret if you're not in the "starting five".
I hope this helps give you some perspective on the position, and also what might be going on in your coach's head. We know that the coaches in the bleachers will all be playing along!
Good luck everyone in our quest for the Open Nationals in B.C.!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Playing South Of The Border - Jeff Young

This past summer I was offered an unique experience south of the border. Many know that 5pin does not exsist in the States however, what you may not know if that there is a type of alternative to 5pin that's fresh and exciting to the 5pin bowler. I am aware that this is a 5pin blog site and that there are many 5pin purists out there that will want to keep this strictly to 5pin, but let's be honest, it's a great opportunity to try something new.

Basically, my first Duckpin experience was a long time coming. Connie Ward had been bugging me for a couple years to give Duckpin a try, and that I would a) do well and b) love everything about it. With the aid of Brian Whalen, Connie finally convinced me to try it. We made the trip from Ontario to Rhode Island, to play the Duckpin's pro tour, having never thrown a ball before. Our trip saw myself, my usual partner in crime Jeff Forester, and Woodstock Ontario's Kristi Lampman being introduced to the game. We got settled in on Friday night after a long drive to Rhode Island and thought we would try a couple games before jumping in with both feet.

To show you the initial draw of the game of Duckpin, Kristi originally was only going to watch us play. After we played a couple games on Friday night, it was clear that she was going to be joining the tour as well. Duckpin uses pretty much the same ball as we use in 5pin, with the only difference being you can use a slightly heavier ball (3 lb 12 oz) and of course the main difference being that they use 10 smaller rubberless pins as opposed to our 5 with rubbers. I will warn any 5pin bowler that this game is very addicting and anyone wanting to try their pro tour, to do so.

I'll list things that I have considered to be great positives for Duckpin (primarily the Tours) from my own point of view as well as others I have competed with from Canada:
- Their Tour season falls mostly during the summer months. This is great for many reasons:
Coming from Canada means a fair distance to drive, and you certainly don't want to be driving through snowstorms.
Our typical 5pin season is on a break during the summer so the tour would not interfere with most of the competitive tournaments in 5pin.
I like to see cool things and places.  Myself, Kristi and Brian travelled to a tournament in Baltimore MD and ended up going to 2 Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, visited the White House and the Washington Monument.  Our Rhode Island trip had us seeing mansions in Newport and standing in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Professionalism
Right from the moment you check in to the tournament, you see how professional the Tours are.  They take their rules and guidelines very seriously.  You check in your bowling balls to be weighed and diameter checked 30 mins before start time.  If your bowling balls don't fit the requirements, they are not used.
Their dress code requires a collared shirt with the Tour patch on the front and your name written on the back.  You are even allowed a flag patch (I wore a Canada flag patch on my sleeve with pride) on your shirt.
- Pride
I've never bowled in a tournament before where I had to stand at the foul line before the start of the event and had the national anthems played.  I cannot begin to tell you how proud it made me feel to not only hear O Canada before my qualifying shift, but also before the playoffs, knowing that I was representing my country in the event.
- The Excitement
I throw the ball pretty hard, so the idea of launching a ball at 10 smaller pins without rubbers is exciting.  There have been times where I felt I needed a helmet with all those flying pins bouncing around.  Also, in 5pin, you can throw a shot and know the result the second it leaves your hand.  Duckpin is unpredictable and there is no time where you're 100% sure you know what the end result is going to be when the pins stop flying.  This makes for an exciting game.
- The People
I was really amazed at the friendliness of the competitors on the Tour right from the beginning.  We were even offered tickets to the Orioles game by another player on tour if we gave him enough notice.  The people really make the atmosphere and have really made me want to go back for more events.  I frequently talk to players from the Duckpin tours and we carry out a lot of deep conversations about both 5pin and Duckpin.

I have a couple Youtube videos of myself bowling Duckpin on the Tour (Sadly, I don't even have videos of myself bowling 5pin) just to give you an idea of the pinfall in Duckpin.
Video 1
Video 2
Video 3
Video 4

And finally if you are interested in trying out either of the Duckpin Tours, please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself, Brian Whalen for the Men's Tour and Connie Ward for the Women's tour.  You can also find everything you need to know about these tours at their websites.
For the Men, check out DPBA TOUR
For the Women, check out WNDA TOUR