Since 2010, Matt McNiel of Prior Lake, Minn., has been the man to beat at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships. His recent success includes two Regular All-Events titles (2010 and 2012), a Regular Doubles win (2012), three 800 series, two 300s and a 299, while averaging more than 250 for his last 27 tournament games.
Staying sharp and preparing for the annual event never stops for the 27-year-old left-hander and his Linds Lakers teammates. They work hard all year, and it continues to show on the leaderboards. Once they post their scores, they must endure the wait to see how they finish, and if they're fortunate enough to come out on top as they did in 2012, the entire Minnesota bowling community celebrates.
McNiel has spent a lot of time in the spotlight lately, and now he'll share some of his personal insight as he enjoys the rewards of a successful 2012 and looks ahead to the 2013 tournament at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev.
May 31, 2013
Well, this will be my last blog, and looking back, what a trip it's been. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was writing my first one and looking forward to coming back to Reno and the NBS to defend my titles. Now, as this chapter in my life comes to a close, I look forward to the next one.
Looking back on my OC performance, I could not be more proud of myself and my teammates. They supported me the whole way, especially after the tough set in team event. I really want to say a big thanks to Chuck Vashaw. During team event, he asked me if there was anything he could do to make my ball reaction better. Of course I replied with, "I feel like I'm throwing an unfolded lawn chair down the lane right now, so no, but thanks." Still, the underlying point is that he was willing to sacrifice just to help me out, which meant a lot, and shows just how great our team is.
Breaking the whole event down, there were a multitude of things that contributed to my poor performance in team. The biggest issue being that I had not bowled in a competitive tournament since the USBC Masters. Consistently bowling competitive tournaments keeps you mentally sharp and able to handle the pressures that one often feels when taking the lanes at the OC. I had done a great job with my equipment and keeping up on practice, but mentally, when the lights came on, I was not there. I could not focus on the task at hand, and in turn, scored poorly.
Looking back on the weeks leading up to team event, I was getting asked 10-15 times per day when I was scheduled to bowl, what I was going to do and how I was going to play the lanes. I think that amplified everything that comes with defending a title out here, and with the lack of tournament experience, it led to my inability to perform.
After team event our team went out on the town, after all we had just shot 3,436. We all had a lot of fun, told stories and jokes and had a great night. The next morning, I felt great. It didn't feel like I had the world on my shoulders anymore, like I could just be myself, and I came out and bowled marvelously. I have gotten to watch the live stream a few times, and that singles set was certainly three of the better games I have thrown in my career, and I'm really proud of myself. On that note, if I stay in second in singles, it will be my fifth top-three finish in the last four years, which in my mind, keeps the "streak" alive.
My experience at the Showcase Lanes has been absolutely amazing. I have gotten to meet so many great bowlers who I looked up to growing up. Also, I have gotten to make a positive impact in many players' games. The thank yous, gifts, emails, Facebook messages, texts, calls and handshakes really make the experience all that much better.
With the tournament entering its final month, I know I will miss Reno. The people, the friends I've have made, the weather and all the great things that the city has to offer. I would definitely move back if I could or get the chance.
I want to thank everyone who has kept up with my blog and for everyone's support and kind words over the last year. I especially want to thank Dave Smart at 900 Global, Bob Learn Jr. at Turbo 2-N-1 Grips, Jay Brewer at Stability Strike Socks and Paula Vidad at EFX for believing in me enough to let me represent them on the lanes, and to USBC's Pete Tredwell for this opportunity to share my thoughts on BOWL.com. This has been a great ride and hopefully, it's only the start.
I want to end this blog by saying something that I feel is really important for every bowler. You get out of your bowling, your tournament experience and your life, exactly what you put in. So give it everything you've got and do your best, every single frame, and every single day.
Until the next time
Good luck and good bowling.
April 20, 2013
Wow, how time flies!
It already has been more than a month since I rolled into Reno, Nev. It seems like the time has flown by, and in that space between, I have gotten to meet people, see things and gain experiences I never would have gotten to experience had I not taken this position (featured coach at the 900 Global Showcase Lanes at the 2013 USBC Open Championships).
The last couple weeks at the OC have been a roller coaster to say the least. I got to watch history made as Lodge Lanes Too broke the all-time team record by one pin (3,538)! Then, I watched as my best friend Erik Vermilyea nearly eclipsed that score, shooting 3,521 with his team, and then coming back the next morning and putting up a huge Team All-Events number of 10,247. To say the least, it's been a blast watching all my friends succeed on the lanes, but that really makes me want to get out there myself. April 30 can't come soon enough!
On the Showcase Lanes side, coaching has been going great. So many individuals and teams are coming down with smiles and thank yous. As a coach, I could not be any happier to get to share in other bowlers' success and know I helped create that. I'm really thinking about putting a cot in back, so I don't have to leave. It seems like even on my one day off, I find myself coming back to watch people bowl or to check in and maybe bowl the BJ (Storm Bowlers Journal Championships) or something.
Lastly, my preparation for my title defense has begun. I have a new 900 Global Break Out that will be making its tournament debut. Also, I have been starting to get in a lot of games and getting physically and mentally ready for the challenge that awaits. I have actually trimmed a few pounds off since coming to Reno, too. Good eating habits and regular exercise have made a difference. There is a really nice work out facility within my building that I take advantage of and also walking to and from work every day, plus all the running up the stairs from the Showcase Lanes to the 4th floor of the Stadium to check out the action have really helped.
Practicing has really become something I have to force myself to do because now I'm in the bowling center all day every day. I have been utilizing the Showcase Lanes to practice on the team pattern, much like many of the competitors here, and I also have been taking advantage of the side tournaments and using that experience to get some tournament games in. Usually, I can practice at my leisure back home, or get in some practices with the Lakers. Not the case this year, but I can practice on the closest thing to the actual team pattern, so I feel that's a good trade off.
I have been staying in touch with the Lakers. We recently had a large conference call that Sam Lantto set up (he's a great tech guy). I was able to relay all of the things I am seeing out here and help people out with equipment suggestions and layouts on what to bring. I feel this is a going to be a great year for us. We have all the tools and discipline to play the lanes correctly and set them up really nice.
On a side note, I have gotten the opportunity to do a ton of different bowling radio shows. It's really cool, and I kind of feel famous, LOL! Plus, I even landed my own weekly segment on a radio station, appropriately called the "Matty McHonorScore Show."
Until next time, good luck and good bowling!
March 14, 2013
So, it's been almost two weeks since arriving in Reno. The transition has been really smooth, and I'm finding that filling the role of the coach at the 900 Global Showcase Lanes has come naturally.
Life in Reno is much different when you live here versus just visiting for three days. I have discovered a lot of cool places to hang out (bars, restaurants) and things to do. More importantly, I found a great barber shop called Maxwell's, because, hey, I got to look sharp on the lanes.
A word of advice to anyone coming to town - stay positive and explore. There are a ton of things to do and experience outside of the usual walk from the Tri-Properties to the NBS.
My first week here, I got to meet USBC Hall of Famer and my all-time idol, Mike Aulby. Not only did I get to meet and chat with Mike, but I got to help him out with some surface adjustments and give him some lane advice, too, which was pretty cool. Then, if that was not cool enough, I got to snag a quick seat in the Joe Bowler throne, another very cool experience.
Work at the Showcase Lanes has gone great so far. It's really rewarding helping teams and individuals improve their games, develop team strategies and help them out with their equipment selections. The best part is hearing all of the thank yous and compliments from bowlers after they compete upstairs.
Finally, it has been fun hanging out with friends I normally only see once or twice a year. Matt Cannizzaro has shown me the ropes and some cool local hangouts, plus I get to geek out and talk lanes and bowling with the Lord of the Lanes Eric Pierson. So far, life in Reno has been fun and rewarding, and I'm looking forward for more of my friends coming through the NBS doors.
As the tournament continues, I will be updating the blog with more experiences, some tournament thoughts and nerdy experiences. Right now, all I've got is the crushing defeat I dealt the ski ball lanes at Circus Circus last night.
March 2, 2013
Hello from 35,000 feet!
I'm flying back from the USBC Masters in New Jersey, heading home. The car is almost ready, and tomorrow, I will start my journey to Reno. It's been a crazy four weeks since my lost blog, and looking ahead, more adventure awaits.
First, I said goodbye to my Linds Lakers teammates last Saturday after we finished competing at the St. Paul City Tournament. I'm really going to miss them, the team practices and traveling together. I still feel that we will be able to come together in Reno this year, and I'm very confident that this year we can put up some great scores.
Secondly, I had to say goodbye to many of my friends from Minnesota that I won't see for a while, including former Team USA member Scott Pohl and former Team USA member Carl Fietek. Both Carl and Scott have taken me in and taught me so much. Plus, we are great friends and pretty much family. I'm really going to miss them and being in the pro shop.
Lastly, I said goodbye to my family. My dad recently took a job in northern Minnesota, so I will not really see him much anymore (that will be a tough adjustment), and I said goodbye to my mom and step dad and immediate family. They support me a ton, and it's going to be a change being away from home. In college, I was only an hour away and home every weekend bowling tournaments, giving lessons and working in the pro shop, so moving to Reno will certainly be a change.
The 2013 USBC Masters
WOW. I bowled great, but more importantly, I had probably one of the greatest weeks of my life. I just want to say thanks to USBC and Brian Whitman, Eric Pierson and their staff for such a well-run and fair tournament. I was asked to bowl the pro-am before qualifying started, and being that my equipment was late arriving on the Fed Ex truck, causing me to miss practice, it was a great opportunity to get some games in. All I can say is the fans were amazing. I probably singed about 150 autographs on bowling pins and T-shirts and took at least 20 or 30 photos. I was really overwhelmed and honored by the reception I got from the great fans out there, especially as an amateur.
The highlights of the week came from qualifying 14th (high amateur) and being able to bowl my idols in the match-play bracket. I won my first two matches, then bowled Parker Bohn. After a very close match with him, I was sent to the losers bracket to face PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash. After being down 67 pins after the first game, I mounted a comeback and came through in the clutch in a very heated and emotional last game that kept me alive in the tournament.
My next match was against Walter Ray Williams Jr., certainly one of the best PBA players ever. I put up a great set, but it was not good enough to come out on top (740-681). I bowled great and got a ton of support from the fans. USBC provided me with a great seat for the show, and I was announced during one of the TV breaks, which really made me feel a part of the USBC family. It was very special but made me want to work even harder to earn my respect, gain trust and make the people who have given me this great opportunity proud. Overall, it was a great week and a great learning experience.
Looking ahead to the Open Championships, I really felt like the Masters solidified some things for me. I have a lot of confidence and belief in my game, that I can be the best and compete with the best. However, that will not deter my preparation for the tournament. The next few weeks will be crazy, adjusting to my new life in Reno and trying to fit in and fill the big shoes at the 900 Global Showcase Lanes. I'm confident that I can make everyone proud and do a great job, but I'm still really anxious and a bit nervous.
I will be updating the blog much more frequently when I get settled in, so keep checking back for the latest. Also, do not hesitate to stop by the Showcase Lanes to check out the facility and stop in to say hi or sign up for some time on the lanes.
Until next time, safe travels to Reno!
Jan. 18, 2013
The countdown to Reno is now 38 days until I leave home and start my trek to the National Bowling Stadium. For almost five months, I'll be offering advice and coaching tips to thousands of bowlers hoping for success at the USBC Open Championships.
It's overwhelming to think back on the things I've accomplished the last few years and extremely humbling to be selected as the coach for the 900 Global Showcase Lanes. I am looking forward to that challenge as well as trying to continue my success at the Open Championships.
But, my departure isn't for a few more weeks, so I am going to take every opportunity to get out there and compete before turning my focus to coaching at the Showcase Lanes.
I got to ring in the New Year after an exciting close to 2012. I won the 2012 Minnesota Masters and an entry into the 2013 USBC Masters in New Jersey (Feb. 18-24).
The Minnesota Masters was the final tournament I needed to win for the "Triple Crown" of Masters tournaments in Minnesota (Minneapolis, St. Paul and Minnesota Masters). It really meant a lot to me because only one other person has achieved that goal (David Langer), and it's an honor to be in the same category as him. The tournament featured a challenging pattern and was a great tune-up for the following weekends!
Just last weekend, I traveled north to Winnipeg for the Manitoba Open with a couple of the Linds Lakers (Sam Lantto and Luke Voaklander). It's always fun traveling with teammates. It certainly helps pass the drive time, and I really feel it adds a lot to our team events.
The Manitoba Open featured a difficult pattern and was a great experience. On top of that, I managed to knock off a 300 pot that had not been hit for the last two years, and if my score is approved, I will be able to get myself a Canadian 300 ring, which would certainly be an honor to have. I ended up fifth in the tournament and had a great experience, as this was my first taste of international competition.
Just last weekend I won the Morris Anderson Memorial Shoot Out, held in Minot, N.D. The cut was minus, and I was able to rally during the 12 games of match play Sunday to make the telecast and eventually claim the title and $5,000 for first place.
After that, the Linds Lakers are cramming in most of our regular team tournaments, so I can compete with the team. I really feel that all of the quality tournament games I am getting in right now are really making me sharp for Reno and the 2013 Open Championships.
Looking ahead, I won't have a free weekend until after the Open Championships concludes. I also will miss out on two tournaments with the Lakers as well as are usual team practices on the Open Championships condition. I am really optimistic so far, though, as I have gotten even closer with my teammates. I know we will be spending a good amount of time before our scheduled events at the Open Championships preparing together, and I plan to stay in touch with the team via emails, texts and phone calls. My doubles partner and three-time eagle winner, Chuck Vashaw, might make an early appearance in March or April to bowl a few shifts together at the Bowlers Journal tournament and try to develop a game plan.
Finally, looking ahead to Reno, I'm not sure right now how or where I am going to get my practice in, or if there will be any tournaments outside of the ones at the NBS to bowl, so I can stay sharp. I do know I will hopefully get recruited in the ever-so-popular USBC employee league. Maybe I can keep up with fellow eagle winner Chip Aki for high average in the league?
Until next time, good luck and good bowling.
Dec. 9, 2012
A happy holiday season to all. For most, December marks the end of the year, but in Minnesota, it marks the beginning of tournament season. In Minnesota and the rest of the Midwest, there is a real focus on team tournaments.
In the Twin Cities area, we have a good handful of 10-man tournament teams that will bowl numerous tournaments together throughout the year. Normally, the Linds Lakers will bowl 7-10 team tournaments together per season (Dec -April/May). Tournament season normally ends with the USBC Open Championships, so basically, our tournament season is about gearing up for Nationals.
Expanding on that note, I really feel it makes sense why so many Midwestern teams do so well at Nationals. We all see each other frequently. We bowl league together, and we practice together. In a way, we are all family. I think that really puts us at an advantage out at Nationals, simply because we know each other very well, and we have bowled as a team in numerous events for the past 4-5 months.
The tournament season in Minnesota started last weekend with the St. Paul Team Challenge. The tournament is an all-Baker format and always fills because it is such a fun event to bowl. As tradition dictates, we use all 10 men on the Linds Lakers team and entered two teams.
Me, John Eiss, Chuck Vashaw, Dave Hoppenrath and Scott Pohl (subbing for Sam Lantto) survived the 30 games of Baker play and came out on top. It was a great start to the season, and it's always nice to add another title to the resume. Plus, it's always nice being able to bowl with Scott. We go back a ways, and he was very instrumental early in my amateur career by letting me travel with him to bowl the Megabucks tournaments, Grand Boot Hill tournament and others around the country.
Growing up as a junior in the twin cities is really a tryout for when you become a USBC Adult member and become eligible to be on one of the tournament teams. Growing up, I always wanted to bowl with John Eiss, as he was my coach for many years. That was certainly a driving force in my junior career and really pushed me. When I left juniors, I found myself trying to find the right team, and for five years, I "drifted" between a few teams. There were a few years where I ended up just throwing together some guys from my league teams just to bowl some of the local tournaments.
A fun side note- at the Open Championships in 2008, I bowled with a Classified team and then wound up bowling with one of 2007 AE champ Mike Rose's team members. Then in 2009, I found myself bowling with Kegel President Chris Chartrand and his crew in Las Vegas. What was fun about that year was the companion team had Mr. 300 Bob Learn Jr. on it, along with former PBA champion Steve Wilson and some other notables. As a kid watching those guys (especially Learn) on TV, I was a bit star struck just to be bowling on the same pair as those guys. It was also cool because Chartrand provided some really sweet Kegel shirts for the team.
Fast forward two years to May of 2011. After some differences with the Linds/Cedarvale team, it was time to part ways. I remember it was a really tough parting of the ways because I had grown up with a lot of the guys on that team.
Immediately after leaving, I made a call to Tom Corbett, captain of the Linds Lakers team. I told Tom I was looking for a team to bowl with and would really like an opportunity to bowl with the Lakers. After some discussions and a vote, I became I Linds Laker. After bowling our first tournament together, I knew it was a perfect fit. We have a great chemistry, and we do everything for the team- there are no individuals. Plus, we all have a great time with each other. Every year, there is a "Laker Party" held a John Eiss's place, and we always seem to find time to have "Laker" get togethers throughout the year. Overall, I couldn't see myself bowling with a different group or ever leaving the team (more on that with my early departure for Reno to come).
Until next time, good luck and good bowling.
Nov. 13, 2012
It has been an exciting couple of weeks since last month's blog. The new eagles have arrived! I also want to spend some time talking about my physical routines as I gear up for the 2013 Open Championships as well as my personal habits when I get to the tournament site.
The eagles have landed
A short while ago, I received my eagles at the St. Paul USBC Hall of Fame banquet. Tom Corbett, the Linds Lakers captain, introduced me, and I got to receive my awards. As I walked up, I was received by a standing ovation, which was certainly unexpected and really meant a lot. It was extremely overwhelming to have the eagles finally in my hands and to enjoy the moment with those I have looked up to, my peers and my family.
In the following days, the eagles made their way into the hands of many local bowlers, who I have been fortunate enough to share the lanes with. The eagles are now residing on the mantel for display and certainly make for an excellent conversation piece when friends and relatives come over.
Looking ahead to the 2013 USBCs
Physical conditioning: Yes, it makes a large difference! For the last three years, I have started a physical conditioning routine that was developed for me by a friend who is a physical trainer. The exercises are developed to strengthen my back, legs and core muscle groups. I normally begin my conditioning 90-100 days before I bowl the USBC tournament, spending an hour to hour and a half in the gym, four days a week. I would highly recommend this to anyone, not only for the benefits to your bowling game but your physical health as well.
Eating and drinking
The OC is a great time to relax and have a good time with your friends, teammates and family. Many folks make a vacation out of it, but sometimes, it's easy to over-do it or make bad food selections. Most of the time, after overeating and drinking, you probably feel like an about-to-explode bratwurst or over-stuffed vacuum bag. Give this a shot - get some advice from a dietician, or just listen to your significant other (usually they are not far off on this topic either), and try it for 30 days before you bowl. Most likely, you will feel better and bowl better. Then, treat yourself to plenty of libations and good eats to celebrate your good bowling.
Personally, I gave up soda/pop a few years back, and it really helped in keeping off the pounds. The day before and day of competition, I will eat light meals/snacks with lots of fruits. No alcohol either. Just an FYI, there is a place right near the National Bowling Stadium called California Pizza that makes great 100% pure fruit and vegetable smoothies. I had one before team and minors in 2010 and 2011, and it filled me up and energized me before hitting the lanes. I highly recommend stopping in to get one!
Get your rest! I always make sure I get at least eight hours of sleep. I also use Melatonin, which is a natural sleep aid and helps me get to sleep in case the time difference is hard to overcome. In the days prior to your competition, make sure you get a good night's sleep. It is very easy to stay up late enjoying what the host city has to offer, but save that for after the bowling is done. Besides, it's more fun to stay up celebrating after putting up a good number and being happy with your performance.
Overall, I would certainly attribute much of my success in the last three years to following the above. If anything, the above are good decisions for your physical well-being and will also help your bowling.
Until next time, good luck and good bowling!
Oct. 22, 2012
Welcome to October!
I want to cover a couple of important things this month. First, the news about 900 Global and the Open Championships, and second, the importance of taking advantage of everything the Showcase Lanes have to offer.
900 Global will be sponsoring the Showcase Lanes this year. This is a great opportunity for bowlers to enjoy some good practice on the OC condition, compete in a few side events and possibly make some extra cash.
For everyone out there, trust me, take advantage of the Showcase Lanes. It is worth every penny, and with a five-man team, its only 20 bucks a guy. If you have a 10-man team, yep, 10 cones....that's a small amount considering how much you're spending for the trip. Trust me, it will pay off! If your teammates come from different areas of the country, this is a great time to develop a game plan. For a small amount extra, you can have one of the very-qualified USBC coaches help you and your teammates with developing a strategy.
The Showcase Lanes also give you a chance to see how your equipment rolls on the pattern and lane surface. You may need to make some adjustments or even drill up a new ball to give you a look you did not have with the equipment you brought.
900 Global will have a booth right next to the Showcase Lanes and will be doing demos on a regular basis with all of the new releases, so stop by and try out some new stuff.
Bottom line, chance favors the prepared. You will thank me after you and your team put up a monster score and have to get a security escort from the bracket window. Book your times now, as they will be filling up fast!
Last year, our team (Linds Lakers) utilized the Showcase Lanes. It proved very valuable as we placed sixth and 16th in team. The Showcase Lanes really helped me determine what equipment to take out of the bag first and what surfaces I'd need. This is very important because with a 10-man team, and only 10 minutes of shadows, you do not have a whole lot of time to be messing around. Besides that, time should be used setting up the pattern, not searching for a line to the pocket. I certainly would attribute a lot of my success at the OC last year to being able to develop my game plan on the Showcase Lanes.
In other news, I will be receiving my eagles in a few weeks! I have been anxiously waiting for the presentation and getting them home. My next blog will be posted soon and have some photos from the event.
Until then, good luck and good bowling!
Sept. 21, 2012
Well, fall is here, and so starts another bowling season. It's time to start putting away the golf clubs (for those in the northern states) and get out the bowling the equipment.
I want to touch on a few things in this blog. First, as I alluded to last month, I will be covering our team play at the USBC Open Championships and talking about the financials out there. I'll also discuss some good equipment maintenance tips and offer a recap of a few tournaments I recently competed in.
No topic I cover will be as important as this one. It's like this: if you work together, prepare and follow the plan, you most likely will do well out in Reno this year. This cannot be stressed enough, as everyone will be bowling on fresh patterns for both team and doubles/singles this year, making teamwork an absolute must! However, if you deviate from the plan, do not work together and do not support each other, you most likely will not have as much success as the teams who follow the first statement. Regardless of the talent on the roster, everyone needs to work together.
So how does money play into this equation? Brackets, super brackets, side pots, 3-6-10 and 1-5-9. You can make a truck load in these side pots. However, when you have certain individuals who just emptied their pockets into these pots on your pair, chances are, come crunch time, they will be looking after their own interests and not yours, or the team's. Trust me, I have been there and done it.
I emptied my checking account to play brackets in 2008 at the OC in Albuquerque. Every frame ticked by slowly, and needless to say, I was not always rooting for my teammates to double or have a score higher than mine. I mean, how can you focus on shot making when you're thinking about the 1,200 cones you just fired in brackets? Even though I do not have a team eagle, I feel that the next two sentences are certainly relevant. If you're bowling for an eagle, play together and split the money. Ask yourself, how much is an eagle worth to you? I will take a guess that it's worth more than the money you make going solo in brackets.
Many of us are just bringing our equipment out of the basement or garage and getting back into fall leagues/tournaments. Odds are, your grips are worn, and your ball is in need of some cover adjustments or replacing. I have spent 11 years in the pro shop business and can't emphasize how important proper ball maintenance is, especially when it comes time to head out to Reno.
It's like anything else, maintain it, and it will perform well, neglect it, and well, it will perform like a cut-rate magician at a kids birthday party.
First off, grips. Change them! I use Turbo Quad Classics (clear) and love them. To every person their own, but these grips have been my staple, and the staple of many of the pro shop customers for a long time. Grips should be changed (depending on how often you bowl) at least once or twice per season. I always use all new grips in every ball I bring out to the OC.
Second, keep your surfaces fresh. 900 Global has a phenomenal system called N.E.A.T. pads. They are similar to Abralon, but much better, in my mind. I used these pads on all my equipment before the OC and will often touch up the covers over my equipment every 10-20 games. Most pro shops will do this for you for a small fee.
I would also like to throw in a shameless plug for the Storm Surface Factory machine. Nothing else does as good of a job of resurfacing than that machine. It never hurts to get a new piece of equipment for the OC, and I will often drill up a new ball or two (as I did with the 900 Global Break Out in 2010) right before I head out to Reno. I know many bowlers will drill out there as well after they play on the Showcase Lanes. Either way, the money spent on a new ball will pay dividends in the long run at the tournament!
I also always use Turbo skin protection tape on my thumb not only to snug up my fit in the thumb, but to protect as well. It does a great job at both, and I highly recommend it to anyone out there!
Finally, on the local tournament scene, I competed in the Fusion Realtors Open last weekend. The event was covered by www.insidebowling.com and had a nearly full field of 189 bowlers. The pattern used was a tweaked Kegel pattern (Winding Road) that kept scoring honest and emphasized good shot making. I managed a late rally aided by a good ball switch to my AMF Bull Whip S.E. to take eighth place.
I also had a blast commentating in the booth with Mike Flanagan. This was a huge tournament with a ton of added prize money from local sponsors. It was great to see a community really embrace a bowling tournament. Usually, bowlers cannot even pay for a spot in the news, but here, the local paper highlighted it and did a great story the week leading up to the tournament. I have now had a couple strong showings this fall in very tough fields, so I am heading into winter with a lot of confidence.
On a side note, my crystal USBC Sport bowling pin was presented to me last week! It now has a home next to its counterpart and alongside my GISBT Miller Time bowling tournament crystal pin that I won when I was a junior bowler.
That will wrap up this installment. Be on the lookout for more blogs here as the Open Championships draws near. Until then, good luck and good bowling!
August 21, 2012
This blog will be my personal journal throughout the year and focus mainly on getting ready for next year's USBC Open Championships. For this first installment, I wanted to recap this year's event, talk a little about the grueling wait to see if my scores would hold up (72 days), getting my check and then looking ahead to receiving my eagles.
After shooting 563 in singles with a few missed spares this year, I definitely felt like I left some pins out there. Thinking about that, and the possibility of losing out on another all-events title, was constantly in my mind. Not that I wasn't worried about losing the doubles crown, too, but it was hard to not keep replaying that 563 in singles.
(Note: McNiel had 792 in team and 847 in doubles for a 2,202 all-events total. He and Charles Vashaw of Deephaven, Minn., teamed for the doubles victory with a 1,489 total).
I was giving BOWL.com multiple hits per day and watched every live stream. Basically, I was stalking the website, and thankfully, charges were not brought up and/or a restraining order was not issued. Anyone who has held a lead at the Open Championships knows exactly what I'm talking about, and for those who do not, it pretty much feels like your stomach is an over-stuffed vacuum bag or an about-to-explode bratwurst. It was sheer torture waking up every day and checking scores from the previous night and having my good friend Erik Vermilyea at USBC keeping me up to date on who's bowling on what dates, so I could watch them on the live cams.
At long last, the day came. I will remember the day forever and always treasure it. Me and the Linds Lakers met for dinner and some beverages and eagerly awaited the call from Duane Hagen (the tournament manager). Shortly after 8 p.m. Central time, the phone rang. It felt so good to know it was finally over, and it was in the books. My name would be put alongside an elite group of some of the most respected players in the history of the sport. Needless to say, it was truly the best day of my life, and I got to spend it with my teammates.
Yes, pay day. Well, kind of. Minnesota is a TEAM-based bowling area. We have multiple TEAM tournaments throughout the year, and thus, we have numerous tournament teams (10 guys) who travel for 4-5 months together and bowl tournaments. The team is really another family, and we all share in the rewards/money we earn. The Linds Lakers split EVERYTHING that we earn in our team tournaments. When we bowl, we bowl for the titles and the prestige. Money is great, yes, but that's not why we are there. There will be more to come about team play and the money situation in my next blog entry.
Lastly, I received a call today from the Minneapolis USBC stating that my eagles have arrived, but I will be waiting until the St. Paul USBC Hall of Fame dinner on October 28th to receive them, which is OK. It gives me more time to prepare the new eagles' nest.
In 2010, when I won my first eagle, Darlene Baker from USBC came down and made the presentation, and it was fabulous. I will be looking forward to the evening, and friends already have been asking to come. They're also inquiring about when the "eagle" party will commence.
The benefits of Sport Bowling
Just to note, my USBC Sport 300 ring came back with its new diamond in place, and my USBC Sport 800 crystal pin will be presented to me during the first night of scratch league coming up after Labor Day. These are a few more of the spoils of the OC....a quick plug for anyone contemplating joining a Sport league or upgrading their memberships. IT'S WORTH IT!! The awards are beautiful and really make your accomplishment special, plus, it's fun to challenge yourself on the demanding conditions, and I really feel it makes you a better bowler and more prepared when you bowl in tournaments that utilize more difficult patterns.
Speaking of which, last weekend I got to bowl the 11frame.com Open, hosted by Insidebowling.com. We bowled on a 1.8:1 ratio, a 42-foot pattern, which was extremely difficult. I was able to lead wire to wire and got "happy go jacky" on the pins at Cherry Lanes to take home a convincing win against a very talented field. It was a great boost heading into the fall season.
That will wrap it up for this installment. I hope everyone will be checking back as share some of my "secrets" to success at the OC. Until next time, good luck and good bowling.
(Note: McNiel has a special trophy case that houses the 900 Global Break Out he used to shoot his record all-events scores of 2,326 in 2010. The ball is protected by the eagles he's won in Minnesota state events. Four more undrilled Break Outs are available to compliment his winning arsenal from 2012).