Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Working with kids bowls over PBA Pro-Am competitors


For a handful of kids, bowling is the sport of choice. • They participate in local youth leagues on weekends with visions of pro tournaments in their heads, much like a Little Leaguer would cherish the opportunity to play with their favorite major leaguer. • At the annual PBA Pro-Am at Spring Hill Lanes, it's a chance to touch their dream.

The pros who take the time to participate are well aware of the potential influence they have on young bowlers. While the event is open to all ages, pros say there is something special about working with youngsters.

"Since there is a little money involved, sometimes the older bowlers can put a lot of pressure on themselves and us to bowl well (in the Pro-Am)," PBA regular Doug Becker said. "You can tell that you make a big impression on the kids though."

Becker, a Clermont native and an eight-time PBA regional title-winner, makes an effort to get to the host bowling center early for the Pro-Am almost every week. Becker walked through Spring Hill Lanes with a glowing smile on his face on Friday morning.

The first shift of the Pro-Am schedule immediately follows a two-hour practice for the main tournament entrants. While this is partly a time for the bowlers to hone their strategy for the weekend, this exhibition is open to the public, and the competitors are nearly overwhelmed with photo and autograph requests. For some, this can prove bothersome, but Becker sees it in a different way.

"The whole experience of these weekends is for the love of the game," Becker said. "These people come in here for a treat, and if I can be one of the bowlers who gives that to them, it's always fun."

Because of the economy and the fact that the PBA World Series of Bowling takes place the same weekend as the Spring Hill Open, the number of big-name tour veterans who have participated over the past couple of years has dwindled. However, there are still names such as former event champions Jason Hurd and two-time Spring Hill Open champion Tom Daugherty.

Daugherty, a Wesley Chapel resident, is another competitor who thrives on the opportunity to work with the kids. He has garnered a bit of a celebrity status after winning the Open in 2006 and 2008.

"This is my favorite stop on tour," Daugherty said. "The fans are great, and it's always a thrill doing stuff for the kids."

There were two youth divisions in the tournament, separated by incoming averages. The lower-average, or B Division, was won by Brandon Cruz (1,540). The higher-average, or A Division, was won by former Springstead High football player Mike Greco (1,568). Greco, 19, was among the oldest of the youth league participants to compete.

A perfect example of what this kind of tournament means to kids is Dalton Dokoupil, 16, who finished sixth in the A Division. After tossing a perfect game this season in league play, Dokoupil still gets a big thrill from competing on the same lanes as some of the best in bowling.

"To be on the same stage as some guys who have been on TV, or will be on TV, it's a blast," Dokoupil said. "I dream to be on that stage someday."

Submit feedback, story ideas to

Fast facts

Spring Hill Open PBA Pro-Am


1. Mike Greco, 1,568

2. Richard Cruz, 1,552

3. Kyle Wieszchowski, 1,541

4. Kris Rummel, 1,513


1. Brandon Cruz, 1,540

2. LeAnn

Militscher, 1,512

3. Sarah Sill, 1,487

4. Alyssa Clifton, 1,481

Working with kids bowls over PBA Pro-Am competitors 08/06/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 6, 2009 3:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump: Objection to NFL protests 'has nothing to do with race'


    MORRISTOWN, New Jersey — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but …

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters upon his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but has to do with "respect for our country and respect for our flag." [Associated PRss]
  2. World War II vet, 97, takes a knee in support of anthem protests

    Human Interest

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On a day when NFL teams grabbed the nation's attention by coordinating demonstrations during the national anthem, a 97-year-old World War II veteran went viral with a solitary show of support for the protests.

    Brennan Gilmore posted a Twitter picture Sunday morning of his grandfather, John Middlemas, kneeling while wearing a veteran's cap. [Twitter]
  3. NFL Week 3: What we learned


    Take the knee … well, not NOW

     1. Photo of Roger Mooney for Times Sports.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Chris Archer's primary problem Sunday, as in much of September, was a lack of slider command. When he can't throw it where he wants, and doesn't have the confidence in the changeup to throw it often, he can't win with just his fastball.

  5. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.