Oregon native Troy Wollenbecker made a quick stop earlier this month between PBA Tour stops. We had an opportunity to chat with Wollenbecker regarding his first exempt year on the Tour.
Wollenbecker, who has been diligently competing on the tour, earned his exemption this season at the Tour Trials in June of 2007.
Wollenbecker happened to be watching his niece bowl in the GTBPA Jr. Traveling All-Star Classic at it’s recent stop at Bay Center Recreation. Occasionally, she’d ask him for a pointer or two to improve her game, and why not. Wollenbecker rolled his first perfecto at the center, back when it was called Eastgate Lanes.
Wollenbecker, now residing in Miami, Florida, pretty much grew up in the bowling center. Of course, that was hundreds, no thousands of games ago. Not because Wollenbecker has been bowling for decades, but being a professional bowler, hardly a week goes by that he isn’t bowling at least 60 games a week.
At last count, Wollenbecker has made more than half of the match play rounds on the Denny’s PBA Tour this season. He has discovered the key to learning to succeed on the PBA Tour.
Wollenbecker mentioned, “There is an infinite number, by mentioning one isn’t giving enough justice to the many of them”.
Fair enough, but just name one.
“Confidence, now that is a huge key. The bowlers you see on more of a regular basis, and others that have been considered the marquee players just have an abundance of confidence out there. They are the ones that consistently do not let a bad frame, or a bad game stop them. Those players know that they can come right back with even greater success. The next frame, the next game, the following day, or even the next week, they bring their A game, mentally, and physically every week,” says Wollenbecker.
Our PBA viewers saw this earlier this season when Chris Barnes missed a ten pin in the finals. He, (Barnes) for the moment, was devastated. The following week, Barnes bounced right back and won.
“That is one of the big reasons they do what they do. They are the grinders,” according to Wollenbecker.
“Another big key is to know what will match up with the lanes, and when and how to adjust. Constantly, watching for changes with ball reaction to the oil pattern. This is huge. Obviously, the quicker you adjust to these things, the better off you are,” says Wollenbecker. “And I’ll never stop learning,” added Wollenbecker.
Being out there on the Denny’s PBA Tour is kind of like running your own business, but you constantly having to be mobile. It (the business) doesn’t only take place on the lanes. There is a lot to it, and you need to understand a little bit about time management to make things work each and every week, and that is only part of it.
Another thing that Wollebecker was quick to point out is all the help that he has had along the way. Being on the Pro Staff at Turbo 2n1 Grips. Also, mentioning his parents (Don and Vicki), and his family; and a friend, Melissa Schroeder, who helped sponsor him.
“There’s been a lot of people in bowling that have helped. Especially, some of the pros on the tour. I’ll probably miss a few if I try to mention all of them, but another person that I’d like to mention is Jay Young, at Varsity Lanes. Jay has been a tremendous help to me out on the tour. We talk on a regular basis,” according to Wollenbecker.
As a matter of fact, The Sport (bowling newspaper) found out that Wollenbecker is considered their house pro at Varsity Lanes in Bowling Green. On Wollenbecker’s recent visit between tour events, he stopped in at Varsity, and there was a junior league bowling at the time. Wollenbecker took some extra time to answer some questions, and even signed some autographs before he had to leave.
“You know, the kids are the future of the sport,” mentioned Wollenbecker. “There is a need to keep the kids involved and excited about the sport, even with the number of other activities out there nowadays. The kids need the interaction with the better bowlers out there. Bowling is slowly turning the corner and seeking a new direction, there are great things planned on the horizon for the game, and it is time that everyone connected with the game renews their interest. It will be fun.”
Speaking of kids, there is one young girl that Wollenbecker, has high hopes for, his daughter, Tori.
“She’s the one I think about the most, and I just try to be the best Dad for her that I can be,” Wollenbecker said.
At this point in the season, Wollenbecker is in the hunt to earn enough points to make the cut to continue his exemption on the tour. With only a few more of the Denny’s PBA Tour stops remaining, he needs to finish well to earn an automatic exemption for next season. If not, it is probably on to the grueling Tour Trials, to be held in Indiana in late May once again.
Wollenbecker has come a long way since delivering newspapers when he was a youngster, The Denny’s PBA Tour is Wollenbecker’s “Field of Dreams.” He has developed a fresh outlook about bowling, and his place in the game. The Sport wishes Troy Wollenbecker all of the best with his passion.
You probably thought that we didn’t ask what he had in his bag. We did, and here is what we found out.
“Nowadays, I have a lot of Ebonite in my bag, the Complete NV, and the Game Breaker,” stated Wollenbecker.
We just might be seeing him roll those balls at The Sport Junior Bowling Camp coming up later this summer.
Troy is tuning up for the Tour Trials in Indiana to begin in late May. It (the tour trials) is a must for him to regain his exemption on the PBA Tour. He just missed having enough points during the season and didn't win a PBA Tour Event during the season that would have provided him an exemption for next season.
Now, he is tuning up by bowling in some regional events, and practicing down south (lives in Miami) leading up to the Trials. We wish him luck. It is a tough nut to crack, even though, he did it last year. If he makes it, we will have a much better chance on getting him back up here in Toledo for our Future Stars Junior Bowling Camp in August at Jugs.
This article is reprinted with permission from The Sport. Northwood resident Rick Radocy is publisher and editor of The Sport, a metro-Toledo area bowling publication. The Sport can be reached at 419-666-6161, ext. 2695.