By Kevin Albarez
In the coming months, we'll talk with some of the best-known bowlers at the USBC Open Championships and get their thoughts on their time at the tournament and what it takes to succeed on the championship lanes.
This week, we heard from Rick Steelsmith, a 25-time Open Championships participant, who won the 1987 USBC Masters in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and returned to the championship lanes a year later to claim the Regular All-Events and Team All-Events titles in Jacksonville, Fla.
Many bowlers dream of having a year like Steelsmith had in 1987. He finished his collegiate career with a national championship at Wichita State University and became the first bowler to be named a first-team All-American four straight years (1984-1987). As a member of Team USA, he won five medals, including two golds, at the 1987 World Tenpin Bowling Association World Men's Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
Now, when he's not on the lanes, the 47-year-old right-hander is the head teaching professional for the Joma Bowling Company in Wichita, Kan.
Steelsmith recently made his way to the Baton Rouge River Center for the 2012 Open Championships and hit the lanes April 22-23.
This year, he shot 716 in doubles, 670 in singles and 585 in team for a 1,971 all-events total. In 25 Open Championships appearances, he has maintained a career average of 211.78.
HOMETOWN: Wichita, Kan.
OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS APPEARANCES: 25 (counting USBC Masters)
OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS TITLES: two, plus one Masters
BOWLING BALL WEIGHT: 15
FAVORITE BRAND OF BOWLING BALLS: Ebonite
ONE all-time favorite host city: Reno
TWO best Open Championships memories: 1. my first Open Championships- Niagara Falls, 1983; 2. 1988 Open Championships in Jacksonville, Fla., when I won two eagles, Team All-Events and Regular All-Events
THREE keys to success at the Open Championships: 1. having a lane-play strategy and breaking them down correctly; 2. team play and communication; 3. equipment and surface choices
FOURgettable Open Championships moment: I don't really have any bad memories. I love this tournament.
FIVE bowlers in history on your Open Championships fantasy all-star team: Mark Roth, Chris Barnes, Marshall Holman, Norm Duke, Earl Anthony
SIX bowling balls currently in your Open Championships arsenal: Ebonite 250K (2), Ebonite Pursuit (2), Ebonite Pursuit-S, Maxim spare ball
SEVEN cities you'd like to see the Open Championships go to/return to: Wichita, Kan.; Dallas; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix; San Diego; Las Vegas; Reno, Nev.
EIGHT favorite bowling balls ever: Columbia Black U Dot, Columbia Pulse, Columbia Ti Boss II, Brunswick Purple Monster, Brunswick Purple Power Blitz, Ebonite Mission, Columbia Yellow Dot, AMF Angle
NINE other current/eligible bowlers you would choose to join you on your ideal pair of companion teams at the Open Championships: I am pretty happy with my current pair of companion teams. They are great bowlers and great friends.
TEN seconds or less, who is your favorite bowler of all-time?: It's a tie between Mark Roth and Marshall Holman.
ELEVEN strikes in a row to start a game at the Open Championships, what's going through your head?: I got 290 locked up, haha. No, really, just praying for a good one. Give it a chance!
TWELVE years from now, where do you hope to be in your bowling career?: I would like to have a few more eagles by then. Realistically, I hope I can still pry the ball off my hand. I am going to be really old by then.