April 28, 2013
We're almost two months into the 2013 USBC Open Championships, and it's nearly show time for me and my team. We bowl on May 5-6, so there's not much time left for narrowing down the arsenal and getting those final few practice games in.
I've taken advantage of the things being offered at the National Bowling Stadium this year, which includes two practice sessions so far on the 900 Global Showcase Lanes and a handful of attempts at the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC. This has given me a chance to personally experience both lane conditions being used this year, because sometimes, just watching isn't enough.
And while I've had the chance to try a variety of bowling balls and game plans, along with watching many great performances over the last two months, I still am not afraid to ask for help. It's a whole different world once the lights come on, and I want to be as prepared as possible, especially after last year's performance. Aaron Smith has not let me live it down, so I am extra motivated this year.
I am extremely confident in my teammates (Andy Wheeler, Bryan Komornik, Jeff Jensen and Kent Wagner) as well as my equipment (thanks to Ebonite, John Gaines, Steve Szabina and Jason Milligan this year). Now, it's just a matter of throwing good shots. Or bad ones that carry.
The good news for this year is that I don't have much time to over-think things. We actually have five live stream broadcasts scheduled for the first four days of May, so we'll be back and forth between the NBS and the USBC Women's Championships at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center (view the schedule here). Hopefully, I'll remember to take off my headset before pulling on our team uniforms on May 5 (thanks, Nike).
I do think this is the best-case scenario as I set my sights (or shins) on the bar Mr. Smith recently set for me (I promised I wouldn't talk about it unless I was able to surpass it). Sometimes, being busy and a little distracted makes bowling easier.
In a conversation I recently had with Gaines, he told me he does all of his thinking and planning well before taking the lanes. Once he gets out there, his head is clear, and he just bowls. He certainly knows how to bowl and has been very successful at it for many years. By the time he shoes up, the hard part is done.
I think I am going to try that next week. Is it really possible to go out there and not panic after a poor shot? Is it possible to not look at the other scoreboards or think about brackets? Can I go out there and not be a little star struck about my own talented teammates? We'll see.
I did select the 10:30 p.m. doubles and singles squad this year to make sure the distractions of the work day are gone and things are a little quieter at the NBS. The rest of the group bowls earlier in the day, so the only true potential pressure would come when they all shoot 2,000+, and Team All-Events is on my shoulders.
Wouldn't that be a dream come true? I'd hope they'd make it as easy as Junior Team USA Support 1 of Mansfield, Texas, made it for their fifth guy, Matthew Tuckfield, who needed only 58 pins in his final game to secure the lead in TAE. How 'bout it guys?
Personal goals for this year:
Team (3,200); Doubles (1,250); Singles (675); All-Events (1,944); Team All-Events (9,500).
At this point, though, it's time to focus on a long news week, live streaming and USBC Convention stuff, so bowling will have to wait. Right now, I'm headed to lanes 17-18 to see if Canada's George Lambert IV and his Team Canada teammates can raise the Team All-Events bar. I've also got a nervous John Szczerbinski and Erik Vermilyea on the line for score updates.
However, if you have some tips on succeeding at the 2013 Open Championships or any of the three on-site side tournaments, equipment suggestions, predictions or words of encouragement, please send me a note on Facebook (Matt Cannizzaro - USBC) or send me an email. I'd love to hear from some bowlers and friends.
Thanks in advance!
That's the news for now. See you on the lanes.
April 5, 2013
Every day, bowlers ask me what there is to do in Reno while they're in town for the 2013 USBC Open and Women's Championships.
Obviously, they're here to bowl, so the first thing I do is encourage them to take advantage of every bowling and prize-money-winning opportunity, which includes a team practice or coaching session on the new 900 Global Showcase Lanes, the 900 Global Two-Game Challenge, Who's Got the Look Baker Bonanza presented by 900 Global and the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC.
I know what you're thinking. It makes sense for me to promote those things because I work for USBC, and that's true, but I'm also a competitive bowler (though that might be debatable), and I appreciate how convenient it is with everything under one roof for the first time.
Infomercial aside, there are so many great things to do in and around Reno, and the city always is changing. Old buildings are being made new again. New things are popping up every year. Here's a short list of things that have been added since my first trip here in 2001: Legends at Sparks Marina (outlet mall, 2009); Reno Aces (2009); The Summit-Reno (2007); Reno Events Center (2005).
I've written about some of my favorite Reno things in the past (mostly food, since that is the most important thing to me in my free time), so now I'd like to present a list of the things I've never done or haven't in a long time but hope to this year (in no particular order):
- Carson City (haven't been since 2007) - I'd like to go see what the capital city has to offer. Maybe I'll check out the hot springs, the railway museum or the capitol building.
- Virginia City - There's a ton of history there, so I know there will be a lot to see and experience. History interests me in general, so I'd look forward to learning about the mining history of the Silver State.
- Lake Tahoe - I was there once in September of 2006 for an arctic kayaking experience and again in July of 2007 to swim and hang out at the beach. It was one of the nicest places I've ever seen, so I'd love to get back there when the weather warms up. Time just didn't allow in 2010 or '11.
- San Francisco/Sacramento - Outside of a couple of airports and just cruising over the state line one time, I've never actually been to California. I have no doubt the short drive would make an amazing day trip, or a longer trip, once the 2013 Open and Women's Championships conclude.
- Rock climbing - The old Fitzgerald's building in downtown Reno has been turned into an amazing rock climbing venue with different challenges for varying skill levels. I've been zip lining in the jungles of Costa Rica, so now it's time to strap the harness back on and learn some new skills. However, I might wait until after we bowl in May, just to be safe.
- Reno Aces - We went to a couple of games in 2010 and 2011, but I'd really like to get back out there on a lazy day and enjoy the fresh air and some baseball. I was a baseball man growing up, before I made the bowling industry my career choice, and I almost feel like I miss out on baseball season entirely, since that also is when the tournaments are running. I definitely will make more of an effort this year, but I won't be fooled by super hero cape night again!
- Food! - There are so many great looking restaurants around. I've either driven past them and never stopped, or they've been recommended by others. As much as I enjoy the Eldorado buffet and the friendly sushi chefs at Circus Circus, it's time to branch out.
Here are some places I intend to try: Pearl Oyster Bar and Grill (Silver Legacy), Foley's Irish Pub, Peg's Glorified Ham & Eggs, Silver Peak Restaurant and Brewery, Michael's Deli and Catering, The Blind Onion Pizza and Pub, Joe's Diner, JJ's Pie Company, Juicy's Giant Hamburgers, Chocolate Bar, Joe Bob's Chicken Palace, Johnny's Ristorante Italiano, Batch Cupcakery, Washoe Steakhouse...and hopefully more.
- Reno Bighorns - Well, it looks like I'm running out of time to see the Reno Bighorns. They came over here to bowl in our event once, so I definitely need to go over there and see them play. They also have other concerts and events at the Reno Events Center, and it's right across the street.
- University of Nevada-Reno - There's a great school right down the street, and I've never checked out the campus. Some of my best memories are from my days at the University of Florida, and I have no doubt the UNR area has great people, bars, restaurants and sporting events.
- Reno Riverwalk District - I enjoy walking down to the Riverwalk District, especially with someone who didn't even know it was there. The scenery is good, the exercise is nice and there are new bars and restaurants opening up all the time. It would be nice to spend an afternoon down there and maybe have lunch and a cocktail outside. Sometimes, though, it's just nice to get out of the NBS for a few minutes.
Wow, it looks like I have a lot to do.
Since we've been here a few times, what are some of your favorite places to go or eat while you're in Reno?
Send me a note on Facebook (Matt Cannizzaro - USBC) or send me an email. I'd love to try some new things recommended by the bowlers.
Thanks in advance!
That's the news for now. See you on the lanes.
March 15, 2013
I've been in Reno, Nev., for three weeks now, and until a few days ago, I was at a loss for words about being back in the trenches. I enjoy this half of the year immensely, and Reno is one of the most delicious places we've been, but some of the calls and emails I've received lately have been negative in nature, which is disappointing. And then, something clicked.
Just before Opening Ceremonies on March 1, I was walking down Center Aisle with a photographer and felt a chill, but in a good way. I took a minute to look around and realized how special the National Bowling Stadium is and how walking through that curtain leads to instant butterflies - every time.
Then, on March 9, I stood at the end of Center Aisle surrounded by hundreds of bowlers and their families awaiting the start of the 3 p.m. team event. Before competition began, we all turned our attention to the curtain and welcomed Robert Shelightner to the Open Championships for the 50th time.
As Shelightner enjoyed his moment in the spotlight, he reflected on five decades of travel and competition. When he spoke of his appreciation for his teammates and the fact that he's had this event to bowl in each year, his mouth quivered and his eyes welled up with tears. He concluded with a story of getting the chance to bowl on the same pair of lanes with Dick Weber for doubles and singles in 2004. It was Weber's last appearance on the championship lanes, and it's a memory Shelightner forever will cherish.
While the national anthem played and Shelightner walked through a sea of congratulatory competitors toward his starting pair for the 50th time, my appreciation for this event was renewed.
I originally came here because I wanted to compete on the national stage. It's a right of membership. Hearing someone describe the venue, high ceilings and bright lights definitely made me curious, and experiencing it for the first time made me return. Meeting gentlemen like Shelightner, and Wayne Hutchinson two days before, makes me want to keep coming, so I can enjoy my own lifetime of camaraderie and memories.
Sure, going to different places is a nice bonus sometimes but never will be my focus or deciding factor for competing. I want my name on the participation wall. I want the chance to have a breakout year like Ron Vokes in 2009, when he shot 857 and topped his highest all-events total by 400 pins. I want the chance to go from mediocre to magnificent thanks to a well-timed ball change and get my picture on BOWL.com. I want to experience seeing my team's name on the leaderboard. I'd love to be escorted down Center Aisle and given a chance to share my own tournament memories.
At the same time, I may never come close to winning, but there's comfort in knowing I'll never be lonely or bored on the first weekend in May. I know where I'll be, and I know I'll be surrounded by friends and fellow competitors. I know I'll take pride in the fact that I have a small part in more than 100 years of history and tradition.
Someday, the media relations manager might ask me for my favorite Open Championships moment. I might not be able to remember exact scores, and I may mismatch the year with the coinciding host city, as some bowlers do after a long career, but I have no doubt the memories will be vivid and accurate - memories of the evolution of the Open Championships, memories of my annual reunion with friends from around the country, memories of meeting my bowling idols, memories of team dinners and epic three-card poker runs.
I'll tell my children and their children about the old days of flip-dot scoreboards, dodo scales and lane machines with cords attached. I'll watch their faces light up with anticipation when they line up in the squad room before marching out for the first time. I'll hope to pass on the passion to my son or daughter, much like my teammate Jeff Jensen, a 29-time tournament participant, will do with his son, Kori, in May. I hope to someday bowl doubles with my son like my co-worker, 2007 Regular Singles champion, Chip Aki, will get to do with his son, Christian, live on BowlTV on March 18.
Much like Mr. Shelightner, I'll be there, no matter where the tournament is and how far I have to travel.
That's the news for now. See you on the lanes.