Matt Cannizzaro blogs from 2014 USBC Open

August 10, 2014

Hello everyone.

Please consider this my official post-OC address for 2014.  

When people come through the USBC Open Championships toward the end of the tournament, they always ask if I'm ready for it to be over, or if I'm ready to be home.

Well, yes and no.

While being home essentially means nights and weekends off to actually BE a bowler, it also means long days in my cubicle at the International Bowling Campus. The environment is much different than being in the trenches at the tournament, and my role changes, too. It's not bad, just different.

This year, though, it's already August 10, and I haven't been back to Texas yet.

ChiAirport2014atnight465x262Immediately after packing up the office at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, I got to spend a week in Rockford, Illinois, for the BPAA Women's All-Star and Senior Women's U.S. Open.

I was able to write about something different and get a little more experience with the live stream gear, since the template doesn't change much during the OC and WC.ChiBean2014atnight465x262

After taking a few days to get the car, belongings and family from Reno to Albuquerque, New Mexico, the halfway point to Texas, I embarked on the professional journey of a lifetime (so far) for the 2014 World Youth Championships in Hong Kong.

I took the short flight from Albuquerque to Dallas, where I met up with Lucas Wiseman for the non-stop, 15-hour and 11-minute flight to Hong Kong. It marked the longest flight of my life by about 10 hours and my first trip out of the North/Central American time zones. It has been awesome so far.

The scope of what we do in the PR department always is changing, and we've really shifted from written coverage to live streaming, which can get up to many thousands of viewers and clicks, depending on the event, location or discipline.

Some days are pretty long, but no two days are the same. While I am not always a fan of change or technology, I feel like I'm getting the hang of everything. Hopefully Lucas agrees. It's just like anything else, though, the more you do it, the easier it becomes - from traveling with the gear to setting it up to working with the software to trouble shooting.

HKBuddah465x262I definitely am glad I have a career and employer that allow for evolution and growth, and I truly appreciate the chance to expand my reach this month. This really is a priceless experience, and hopefully, the first of many during the months away from the Open Championships.

For those who wonder what we do in the off season, remember to tune in to BowlTV this week. Also, here's a few pictures.

Thanks again for all of your support, and remember to find me on Facebook at Matt Cannizzaro - USBC or on Twitter (@USBCMatt).

That's the news for now. See you on the lanes.


June 6, 2014 

Hello again, everyone.

I am contacted fairly regularly via email, text, Facebook, Twitter and even a good old-fashioned phone call, by bowlers with questions or seeking advice about the tournament and host city.

For the most part, I'm here to help, dispel rumors, direct traffic or share my personal tips on enjoying the tournament and travel experience.

After a recent conversation, it dawned on me that if you count five stints in Reno, Nev., as the media relations manager for the USBC Open and Women's Championships, two additional visits as a competitor (2001 and 2004), a few random trips for other USBC events and a short personal excursion in 2012, I have spent more than two years of my life in The Biggest Little City in the World.

From the start, as a bowler, I was impressed by the convenience of Reno and the 24-hour availability. By my second visit, I had Syracuse, Albuquerque and Knoxville to compare it to, Open Championships-wise.

In two Reno visits, we were able to enjoy all of the finer things - cheap blackjack, cheap food and the convenience of being able to get around without a rental car. Buffets were everywhere, the Awful Awful was available no matter what time we bowled and let's face it, there's no venue like the National Bowling Stadium.

As a 20-something college student, those really were all the things that matter and provided for some very memorable trips. But, as I grew up, my tastes changed, my competitive expectations were raised and my financial situation allowed me to plan for more.

Luckily, as I evolved and matured, so did Reno.

When it was time to move here for six months in 2007, I had a chance to see what was beyond the neon lights and dinging slot machines of the downtown area. Don't get me wrong, I love that within a few blocks of the NBS, I can pretty much have any kind of food and a variety of entertainment options, even back then, but sometimes, it's better to get away from the event and the obvious temptations that could come with a new group of friends in town each day.

We settled into the south side of town with nice neighborhoods, mountain views and crisp air. It was close enough, family-friendly and relatively quiet. Three of us got a three-bedroom house with all of the necessary conveniences - furniture, cable TV, laundry facilities, a terrific neighborhood for walking the dog and a great backyard where we could grill and relax. Back then, we even had time to enjoy it all, since there really was no social media, video or live streaming.

We've lived on that side of town each time since, with the exception of 2011, when we chose the other end of the spectrum and lived in Sparks. It gave us a chance to get to know more of the area and explore things we hadn't seen before.

RenoView2014OC465x262Over the years, I've found my favorite things and places, but as the city continues to change, especially downtown, I have the chance to explore new things.

I know I've done this before, but here is the 2014 version of my Reno top fives. It's some of the many things I look forward to each time we visit, and a little more detailed than the 2011 and 2013 versions. They are in no particular categorical order, some haven't changed over the years and some may fit more than one category. I'll also solicit help from Aaron Smith, who enjoys a few categories I may not be versed in.

Feel free to share some of your personal favorites that may not make my list.

Blackjack (You really can't go wrong, but different places offer different extras)
1, Cal Neva ($3 tables, Royal Match, unique drinks and a one-of-a-kind karaoke experience)
2, Eldorado (friendly staff, good comps, variety of side bets)
3, Rail City ($3 tables, popular Bloody Mary, away from downtown, good Ale House)
4, Silver Legacy (bowler-friendly, good side bets, GREAT Bloody Mary, convenient)
5, Sands ($2 tables at times, you're already there for brackets, Mel's Diner)

1, Atlantis (nothing better here in my eyes, especially on Friday nights)
2, Eldorado (so close and so good - all of the Eldorado favorites in one place)
3, Cantina Los Tres Hombres (AYCE tacos on Tuesdays - enough said)
4, Wild West Wings (brand new, and my favorite because it's AYCE on Mon/Tues)
5, Sushi (so many great places, any day of the week)

1, The Awful Awful (downtown at the Nugget - best $8 you can spend in Reno)
2, Hash House (at Harrah's - gigantic portions of everything, but burgers are great)
3, The Terminator (at Western Village in Sparks - a delicious chance to explore Sparks)
4, Juicy's Giant Hamburgers (Chris Hester approved!)
5, In-N-Out Burger (a chain for some, a novelty for others - cheap, quick, convenient)

Craft Beer (Aaron's wheelhouse - some would call him a connoisseur)
1. Brasserie St. James (easy to walk to downtown location)
2. Great Basin - (two locations, great local options, can't leave Reno without trying an Icky!)
3. Brewer's Cabinet (not far from National Bowling Stadium)
4. Ceol Irish Pub (also walking distance to NBS, authentic Irish pub)
5. Sierra Tap House (right on the Riverwalk)

Downtown Eats
1, La Famiglia Restaurante (short walk from NBS, traditional Italian)
2, Fuego (next to La Famiglia - Tapas-style, very social environment)
3, Men Wielding Fire (great BBQ platters, big portions, right by NBS and Aces Ballpark)
4, The Copa Bar and Grill (inside Sands - great ambiance, terrific prime rib and drinks)
5, Michael's Deli (near downtown, great sandwiches)

Entertainment (sure, all of the casinos have shows and concerts, but this is outside the box)
1, Wild Island Adventure Park (bowling, games, golf, food, water park and more)
2, Reno Riverwalk (scenic, great food and bars)
3, Basecamp (located downtown, indoor and outdoor climbing walls)
4, Need 2 Speed (indoor go-carts)
5, Reno Aces and Reno Bighorns (professional baseball and basketball downtown)
6, Legends at Sparks Marina/The Summit (dining and shopping)
7, Lake Tahoe/Pyramid Lake (beautiful any time of year)
8, Carson and Virginia City (so much history nearby)
9, Golf (there's about 50 golf courses within 90 minutes of Reno)
10, Museums (National Auto Museum, Nevada Art Museum, Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center)

Happy Hour/Bars
1, Roxy's (at Eldorado - $5 martinis from 4:30-6:30 p.m. - 102 varieties)
2, Flowing Tide Pub and Grille (great staff, special happy-hour food prices, gaming)
3, Sierra Gold (half-price pizza from 11 p.m.- 2 a.m. and drink specials)
4, Siri's (new downtown casino - many drink specials - large daiquiri menu)
5, Shooters (next to McDonald's downtown - a fun place for staff, but not usually bowlers)

Local Gems
1, Gold 'N Silver Inn (good enough for Man vs. Food, good enough for me)
2, Black Bear Diner (terrific comfort food)
3, Peg's Glorified Ham & Eggs (as good as it sounds)
4, Kimmie's Coffee Cup (Aaron gives it one and a half thumbs up - thank him later)
5, Bertha Miranda's (great Mexican food and margaritas in downtown Reno)

Out-of-the-way Delicious Restaurants
1, Johnny's Ristorante Italiano (short drive, upscale, awesome views)
2, Washoe Steakhouse (near Johnny's, nice drive, nice views)
3, Cantina Los Tres Hombres (AYCE tacos on Tuesdays - enough said)
4, Louis' Basque Corner (a unique family-style dining experience)
5, Campo (great Italian food close to downtown)

1, Nu Yalk Pizza (this is the real deal - new location is on Virginia in South Reno)
2, Brew Brothers (inside Eldorado - nothing beats the happy-hour 2-for-1 pizza deal)
3, Pizza Plus (we had the Super Monster Mondo delivered to the office, and it was great - just ask Amigo Man)
4, J.J.'s Pie Company (downtown and convenient - out of the way - good slices)
5, Eldorado Buffet (surprising, yes, but a good variety that can be mixed with other treats)
6, Sierra Gold (late-night option, half-price from 11 p.m. - 2 a.m.)

1, Kokopelli's (inside Circus Circus)
2, Sushi Lover (just off Fifth Street downtown - good for groups)
3, Sushi Club (near Atlantis - good for groups)
4, Sushi Pier 2 (Midtown on Virginia)
5, Sushi Sake (new - inside Eldorado)


1, Wild West Wings (brand new, and my favorite because it's AYCE on Mon/Tues)
2, Jox Sports Bar (great wings, even better service - ask for Teresa)
3, Legends Grill, Sports and Spirits (sizable wings, nice atmosphere)
4, Joe Bob's Chicken Palace (60-cent wings Mon/Tues)
5, Bully's Sports Bar and Grill

Again, I have no doubt there are many other great options, like: Slice of the Peak, Chocolate Bar, Old Granite Street Eatery, Wild River Grille, Sup and more.

Definitely let us know your favorites if they're not on our list yet!

That's the news for now. See you on the lanes.


April 27, 2014

Hello again, everyone.

The last few weeks in The Biggest Little City in the World have been more of a roller coaster ride than a lunchtime jaunt to Six Flags Over Texas while working at the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas.

We saw some great scores, which included a record-effort in the team event and a few close calls shortly after, along with the Regular Singles lead changing hands twice in 15 hours, after standing for almost a month.

Then, the leaderboards were calm for a little while as we celebrated a handful of participation milestones, including Syl Thiel (69 years), Bill Lillard Sr. (67), Jimmy Schroeder (66), Glenn Allison (63), Les Zikes (62) and Maynard Johnson (61). Johnson and USBC Hall of Famer Bob Hart celebrated 100,000 pins.

Throw in the start of the USBC Women's Championships at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, the XBowling Intercollegiate Singles and Team Championships, USBC Convention and Annual Meeting, USBC Hall of Fame ceremony, a couple of live streams and another barrage of big scores at the National Bowling Stadium, and you can't help but feel a little light-headed. And you know what? It's awesome.

Unlike the variety of rides at Six Flags, each spin at the national tournaments is different. That's what makes it such an enjoyable experience. No matter how many times you buckle in for a day here, there are new twists, turns, loops and drops.

Just like you'd quickly learn not to jump on the Texas Giant after a plate of nachos, a corn dog and some funnel cake, each day at the tournaments is a learning experience.

What have I learned recently? Well, without elaborating too much, the following words have been the topic of discussion more than once - longevity, respect (and disrespect), class (and lack thereof), dedication, perseverance and hard work.

This month, I've been impressed, I've been in awe, I've been surprised, I've been humbled, and unfortunately, I've also been disappointed by some bowlers. It all comes with the territory, and sometimes, you have to have a thick skin. It won't always be cotton candy and accolades.

Though many bowlers and fans stop by daily to thank us for our coverage and efforts, it's the few naysayers that steal my attention at times. Why is it that even when the positives outnumber the negativity by 50:1, we are consumed by the latter? It is impossible to please everyone. That's a fact. But, we'll continue to do our best to give the bowlers the best experience and most balanced coverage we can provide.

Luckily, experiences like the 2014 USBC Hall of Fame dinner can erase 10,000 negative comments or emails.

Before the ceremony even started, I was able to say hello to so many great bowlers and industry leaders, and I then shared the dinner line with USBC Hall of Famers Hazel McLeary, Bill Spigner (and his wife Barb) and Bob Hart.

BrandySilvaAJMcLean2014OC250x250Our table included Marshall Holman, Dave Husted, Mark Baker, Chris Barnes, Jason Milligan and USBC Women's Championships titlist Brandy Silva (whom I know personally if you want an autograph). At the table next door, as a special guest of 2014 inductee John Gaines, was A.J. McLean from the Backstreet Boys.

It's safe to say that no matter how many events like this I attend, I usually am star struck from the moment I walk in the door.

My main purpose for being there this year, though, was to watch my good friend Gaines take his place in the hall of fame. Perhaps the most humbling moment of the whole night...possibly of 2014...was being recognized by Gaines during his speech.

Even with everywhere he's been and everything he's accomplished, Gaines didn't focus on his own success. Instead, he recognized the people he felt most impacted his bowling career (which includes four wins at the Open Championships) and thanked those who have supported him along the way. He thanked his coaches and teammates. He even thanked the sport itself for providing him with a lifetime of memories. He ended things by bringing his family on stage to share in the moment. MattAndJohnGaines2014OC262x465

To even be considered among the top 500 people or things on that list would've been memorable, but to be addressed directly is unforgettable, especially when I owe so much to him over the last 11 years or so as I progressed in my own bowling and professional careers.

Thanks again, John, and welcome to the USBC Hall of Fame. Also, congratulations to Dale Traber, Doug Kent, Steve Cook and Woody Woodruff, who also were inducted into the hall of fame.

In case you missed the ceremony, click here.

That's the news for now. See you on the lanes.


April 2, 2014

Hello again, everyone.

Yes, I am sitting at the same desk, surrounded by the same walls I looked at for thousands of hours in 2010, 2011 and 2013. When I walk outside, I am greeted by the same cool, dry Reno, Nev., air. Outside the office door is the familiar sound of teams checking in or signing up for next year's event. In the distance, luckily much farther than in 2007, is the sweet sound of pins falling at the one-of-a-kind National Bowling Stadium.

Despite all of the similarities and constants, this is not the same USBC Open Championships, and it's not the same Reno. That's what makes what we do so special.

It's not a secret, that although we enjoying the nights and weekends off, regular league sessions, frequent tournaments and great people back home in Texas, we arrive in our cubicles at the International Bowling Campus in August and immediately start counting down the days until the next Open Championships begins.

It's nothing personal against our friends and co-workers, I promise. There's just something refreshing about being on-site without schedule restrictions and expectations or the eerie quiet of the office atmosphere.

At the tournament, even though the schedule and routine are the same for 136 days, each day brings new people and new possibilities. Without looking back, it's possible I've written these same words year after year. And they still are true.

We shook things up with a new squad schedule in 2013, fresh oil for every squad, two lane conditions for the first time and a variety of side events under the same roof. The 2015 event will bring more changes, including a new pricing structure and another new squad schedule. The majority of the changes you see at the Open Championships are driven by bowler feedback. If you think we're not listening, and at least discussing the ideas that come in, you're wrong.

Matt2005OC465x262This is my 10th tournament as a USBC employee. The event, and our media relations responsibilities, continues to change and evolve. We do 10 times more than we did when I started in 2005, and while it's a lot more work and moving parts, it also keeps it fresh and entertaining.

Our latest endeavors involve social media and up-to-the-minute reporting. In the past, writing a story about tonight's team event and posting it tomorrow was the norm. With the webcams, Facebook, Twitter and texting, waiting until tomorrow would make it old news.

We still produce news and features for and the hometown media of our standout participants, but we've also been putting out interesting facts, notes, videos and updates throughout the day, and these efforts have been very well-received. Our short YouTube videos also are popular to the point that they're getting three times as many views as our traditional stories.

It's all a bit of a blur sometimes, but I definitely feel like we're keeping up with the trends and demands, even if it seems like I'm fighting it every step of the way (right, Lucas?).

Another great adventure at the Open Championships is our live stream coverage. It has come such a long way since being introduced in 2010. New technology has allowed the operation to shrink, while the quality has improved exponentially. None of that can help the quality of the commentary, however. Sorry!

I feel like we have a great schedule of live events from the Open and Women's Championships this year as well as additional coverage of the XBowling Intercollegiate Singles and Team Championships and USBC Queens and Senior Queens, which all are being held in Reno, but do not appear on the main OC/WC schedule.

I definitely appreciate the support and enthusiasm concerning the events, along with the many great suggestions for who we might want to show. It is a long, challenging process, and we try our best to mix it up as well as show new people when we can. One thing, though, persistence in reaching out does not improve anyone's chances of landing on the schedule.

Off the lanes, as I mentioned, Reno also continues to change. Each time we come, there are new restaurants, many within walking distance, and new things to see and do. This year, we decided to live in a different area of town and have made it a point to try/visit places we may not have frequented before. Aaron Smith is particularly excited about a second Buffalo Wild Wings recently coming to town.

At the same time, there are places we look forward to visiting regularly - old Reno standbys, like the Little Nugget for an Awful Awful Burger. As the city continues to upgrade and grow, it is a nice mix of familiarity, comfort and surprises. Tomorrow, we'll enjoy an evening at the ballpark as the Reno Aces kick off their season against the El Paso Chihuahuas, essentially building a bridge between this year's host city and next year's tournament home.

Remember to find me on Facebook at Matt Cannizzaro - USBC or on Twitter (@USBCMatt).

Below, are a couple of shots of what we've been up to this year.

That's the news for now. See you on the lanes.