Aaron Smith blogs from Reno

June 17, 2012

2012USWOLogoSummaryHowdy again.

It's nearly here. Bowling's U.S. Women's Open is coming to town.

It's a time when the best female bowlers in the world come to compete for one of the most prestigious titles in the sport. And while these ladies are here in Reno, the USWO crown isn't the only one they'll be looking to capture. They'll also have their sights set on jumping to the top of the leaderboard at the USBC Women's Championships.

In past years, the USBC Queens and Senior Queens have coincided with the Women's Championships, usually leading to a barrage of strikes that sets the scoring pace for the entire tournament in the first few weeks. Since I joined the tournament in 2009, only Krischna Howard of Hawthorne, Calif., has been able to crack the top spot after the championship tiara has been presented. She rolled a 300 game on her way to a 792 series to capture the 2010 Scratch and Diamond Singles titles.

The timing of the USWO, however, leads to an interesting role of reversal for those who are near the top of the standings every year. They'll be staring down some very respectable scores that already have been set.

Sharon Aronson (2,167 in Scratch All-Events), Tammy Lewis (778 in Scratch Singles) and the ladies of Time Of Our Life II (3,282 in Scratch Team) all have put up numbers comparable to what won last year in Syracuse, N.Y. Lewis already has passed Team USA member Shannon Pluhowsky's winning total from a year ago, 763.

I won't lie to you. It's going to be fun to watch some of the best bowlers on the planet try to run down those numbers while battling against each other as well. I'm giddy with excitement (I really am a bowling nerd). FYI, the Queens was held in the Dallas area earlier this year, and the Senior Queens will be held in the fall.

An added bonus for this exciting week is that Women's Championships squads and USWO qualifying and match play will share the lanes each day. In previous years, the Women's Championships would close its doors for a few days to let the other tournaments run their course.

Why is this so great? It allows me to sleep!

In 2010, I put in around 50 hours over a three-day span right before the beginning of Queens, which led to me turning into an actual zombie while covering Jodi Woessner's record-breaking performance. With the new schedule, we only have two squads at most during the morning for the Women's Championships, and after a break, the afternoons will have USWO competition. It's nearly a normal day!

MattandEmilLARGETo add to the fun, USBC's Lucas Wiseman will be on-site to live stream qualifying and match play for the USWO. Click here for the schedule so you'll know when to tune in. If I'm lucky, he may even let me into the booth so I can be like my heroes Matt Cannizzaro and Emil Williams Jr. The sportsbook at Atlantis has it at 35-1 odds.

Place your bet.

That's the scoop from the "Taj Mahal of Tenpins." See you in The Biggest Little City.

May 28, 2012

2012CenterAisleHowdy again.

For seven out of the last nine years, I've made my way across the country to compete at the USBC Open Championships. In the early years, the trips were about making a name for myself on the biggest stage in the sport and bringing home an eagle. If you happen to look at my scores for those first few tournaments, you'll see I historically was off pace. In fact, please don't look at them. They're brutal.

Recently, however, I've come to the realization that I'm not that good. And I can live with that. I still love the sport unconditionally, and I am going to continue to try and get better.

But right now? Not that good. I need a few sessions with Mike Jasnau as soon as possible.

With that being said, my expectations last week when I traveled to Baton Rouge, La., for the 2012 Open Championships weren't exactly through the roof.

I didn't plan on loading up in brackets since USBC Hall of Famers Steve Fehr and Jeff Richgels and their talented teams were scheduled on the same squad. The lanes played tough, and I had my lowest all-events total since the last time the tournament was in Baton Rouge in 2005. My good friend and doubles partner Mike Miloshoff helped carry us to a respectable doubles score, and that'll be the only event I'll cash in.

As a quick recap - I won absolutely nothing in brackets and won't make back my money back on the tournament entry fee. So I'm operating at a loss there. Add in hotel, flight, rental car, all that Cajun cooking and a few excursions around New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and that turned into a pretty expensive lesson in futility.

Despite the cost, the not-so-good bowling and the belief that part of my soul is still on Bourbon Street, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

The Open serves as my vacation year in and out. Being out on the road with the USBC Women's Championships, it's one of the few times I get to see some of my best friends from back home. Each of those seven tournaments has a memory cemented in time. Every time I hear The Police's "Roxanne," I think back to my first tournament in Reno in 2004 and start laughing. In 2009, I set several land-speed records driving from Reno to Las Vegas in the middle of the night. Down went Frazier in 2010, and he needed a new ride the rest of the trip.

The idea that the Open Championships will be in Reno for the next two years hasn't caused anyone to second guess the trip. The location of the tournament doesn't matter to us. It's all about the experience, the chance to hang out and build lifelong memories. That's the best part. You never know how the memory is going to be made, but it sure is fun finding out.

With the Women's Championships being in Reno for a few years in a row, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't heard complaints from bowlers. They say they've done everything there is to do here. That's just not true. That memory is waiting to be made for 2013 and beyond. Don't let it slip by.

That's the scoop from the "Taj Mahal of Tenpins." See you in The Biggest Little City.

May 10, 2012

ThompsonDorothy1LARGEHowdy again.

Every once in a while, an opportunity arises here at the USBC Women's Championships that you just can't say no to. My opportunity came last week as I escorted Dorothy Thompson of Shelby Township, Mich., down Center Aisle for her 50th tournament appearance.

Usually, I'm on the other side of these special events. I'm taking pictures or recording video. I'm interviewing the bowler and writing the story of how she made it to 50 years at this great tournament. I'm fairly confident that's why I receive a paycheck week in and out.

When we started to plan for Dorothy's 50th appearance, we realized a few folks were going to be out of town. Responsibilities needed to be shifted around. That's when I got the call to the big show. My responsibility went from behind the camera to center stage with Dorothy.

Thankfully, Wendy Clem jumped in and was able to handle all of the camera work, so I was able to focus completely on being a part of Dorothy's once-in-a-lifetime experience. And that's when the nerves finally kicked in!

I knew the routine inside and out. I've seen Women's Championships Tournament Manager Eric Pierson make that march a thousand times. I love the fact that after it's all over, he tells me that the experience was awesome. Every single time. But hearing about it versus experiencing it? Wow.

We first presented Dorothy her 50-year plaque in the squad room during our daily announcements. I've handled the squad room announcements plenty of times before, so that wasn't too bad. In fact, I really enjoy taking care of the announcements and awards. If it looks like I'm having fun up there at the podium, I am!

As the rest of the squad marched out to their respective lanes, Dorothy and I hung back and waited for her introduction. There was a bit of small talk before I asked her if she was ready. She seemed a little nervous, but was confident.

I wish I could say the same for myself. I started thinking about what I had to say, whether or not I'd have any issues with the echoing from the Stadium's speakers, how I was going to hold her plaque and medallion, whether or not I was going to start breathing again anytime soon. This was more than I bargained for all of a sudden.

And then the curtains opened.

As we started to walk, Dorothy instantly lived up to the moment. She was smiling, waving to the crowd and strutting her stuff. She was having a blast. I'm pretty sure that's when I started to breathe again.

Seeing that she was enjoying herself, I was able to shake the nerves instantly. In the end, that's what it's all about. The moment was hers, and she was kind enough to let me tag along for the ride.

Everything was easy after that. Minus handing her plaque upside down (guess I didn't think about how I was holding the plaque hard enough), we rolled through the presentation. She said a few words and the crowd went nuts. We finished up, got her to her lanes, and just like that, everything was back to normal.

Except for the memory. Eric was right (I hate admitting that in public). It was awesome. A special thanks again goes out to Dorothy for letting me share the moment with her. Hopefully, we get to relive it at the 2013 event.

WomensChampsLOGO2013LARGESpeaking of 2013, I've been seeing more and more ladies using the on-site registration computer to get their teams and times set for next year. One reason I've been seeing that is because the computer is located right next to my office (stop in and say hi if you'd like). The other reason is the great folks in our registration department keep telling me how excited the ladies are getting when they get the days and times they never got in the past.

But, you don't have to wait until you get to Reno to get all set for the 2013 Women's Championships. Click right here and get your team squared away for its trip to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center!

That's the scoop from the "Taj Mahal of Tenpins." See you in The Biggest Little City.

April 21, 2012

042112 IBMHF Reno1LARGEHowdy.

Now that we have a week under our belts here at the 2012 USBC Women's Championships, it seemed like the appropriate time to throw another blog out into the world.

What an awesome week it was! Beyond the festivities of Opening Day, we've welcomed the first of seven ladies who will be recognized for 50 years of participation at this great event. We've had several ladies make their run at perfection on the tournament lanes. I had some tremendous pizza at Pie-Face Pizza Co. on 2nd Street.
To top all of that off, there's the addition of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame's first satellite museum to the first floor of the National Bowling Stadium.

This place is beyond cool. As the resident bowling nerd of the Women's Championships, I'm like a kid in a candy store every time I walk in. There are historic pins, bowling balls and trophies. The walls are graced with portraits of our hall of famers. Even the wallpaper is cool. The wallpaper!

Bowling balls used for record-breaking achievements by the likes of Earl Anthony, Don Carter and Anita Cantaline are on display. The famed Budweiser team is well represented. The craftsmanship put into some of the trophies is breathtaking.
Simply put, it's amazing.

If I had to pick a favorite display, I'd lean towards Dave Soutar's 1976 Miller High Life Open trophy. Wendy Clem, my associate on the media relations staff, would go with the sombrero presented to Les Zikes for his all-events title at the 1963 FIQ World Championships.

And we haven't even gotten to the best part yet. It's free of charge to visit.

Be sure to make some extra time before or after your squads this year in Reno and check it out. It's located on the first floor, right next to the north escalator. If north and south isn't your thing, it's across from the Pinup Pub. Look for the red doors to open up 5,000 years of bowling history.

That's the scoop from the "Taj Mahal of Tenpins." See you in The Biggest Little City.
042112 IBMHF Reno2LARGE042112 IBMHF RenoLARGE

March 31, 2012

SmithAaron2012LARGELet's start by saying it's great to be back and to be a part of the USBC Women's Championships again. How I've missed you.

As a brief re-introduction, my name is Aaron Smith, and I'll be handling the on-site media relations for the 2012 tournament at the one-of-a-kind National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. I'll be joined in the byline once again by Wendy Clem, who told the tales of the 2011 Women's Championships in Syracuse, N.Y.

After taking off the 2011 event to pursue a career in the real world, I find myself back in Reno because I missed the tournament life way too much. I missed the sound of pins crashing hour after hour. I missed the march out for every team event. I missed seeing the smiles after a strike. I missed telling your stories. I missed it all.

But you're not reading this to hear about what I missed. You're reading this because you want to know what's going on in Reno as we prepare for Opening Day!

Now that we're out of the convention-center setting and back at the NBS, we obviously don't have to worry about installing the lanes. That doesn't mean sawdust and the sound of power tools isn't prevalent. The walls are being put up in my office as I'm typing this sentence. Our construction crew is hard at work prepping the vendor booths, registration area and our trophy case. They really do a phenomenal job, as bowlers at the Open Championships in Baton Rouge, La., will attest. Be sure to thank them if you get the chance.

And speaking of construction, the Stadium also will have a new addition that surely will entice bowlers who love the history of our sport. A new satellite hall of fame will be unveiled on the first floor (remember that the lanes are on the fourth floor) right before our opening ceremonies on Saturday, April 14. I'll keep you on the edge of your seat for more details, though.

Downtown Reno also looks a little different from our last visit in 2009. The renovated bus station now is located behind the Stadium. Virginia Street is getting worked on as we speak, and it should be looking brand new by the time the first ball is rolled.

The Reno Aces, which debuted as the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2009, will kick off their season at home on April 5, so there will be baseball throughout the duration of the 2012 Women's Championships. If you missed the opportunity to take in a game during our last visit, be sure to bring your mitt and baseball cap.

The 2012 edition of the Women's Championships also offers a unique opportunity to scout a different part of town as the 2013 and 2014 event moves down the road to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. As a current resident living towards the south side of Reno, I'll be the first to confirm that there are plenty of fine dining, shopping and gaming opportunities around every corner.

The convention center is located right by the Atlantis and Peppermill, which also is near one of my favorite local restaurants, Foley's Irish Pub. As an on-going series, I'll drop suggestions of new and different places to try out.

And, as always, beautiful Lake Tahoe is just a half-hour drive away.

Well, that's about it from Reno this time around. In approximately two weeks, bowlers will be marching down Center Aisle, hitting the tournament lanes and taking aim at their place in Women's Championships history.

Our tournament staff, many of whom already are on their way to Reno, will be ready to greet each and every one of you with a warm smile and the dedication to carry on the rich traditions and history of this great event.

Welcome back to The Biggest Little City in the World, ladies.