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Bradley Hilltopics

Fall 2008 • Volume 14, Issue 4  

Sports Scene
Right up his alley | Ladas ’54 broadcasts for bowlers | Spare scholarship dollars | Herzog ’74 ready for season #33 | New coach throws out Cubs’ first pitch

 

Broadcast for bowlers

By KAREN CROWLEY METZINGER, MA ’97

don ladas

Joliet native and “decent bowler” DON LADAS ’54 hosts Ten Pin Topics on WJOL, the longest-running bowling talk show in the nation. The six-nights-a-week, 10-minute radio program covers area bowling leagues’ weekly reports, tournament highlights, and news from the bowling world. During his 54 years on the air, Ladas has interviewed the best bowlers in the nation, including seven-time PBA national champion Steve Jaros, currently one of the top bowlers in the country.

Ladas works at the station Monday through Friday, taping two programs on Friday. Loyal listeners call in with updates. At one time in the ’60s, Ladas notes, he had enough material for nine programs a week.

“Bowlers and race track drivers are easy to interview,” says Ladas. “They let me in and let me know what’s going on. They tell personal things that the audience likes to hear. Some of the top-notch bowlers will actually give bowling tips.”

More than 20,000 sanctioned league bowlers live in his Will County listening area, a county that boasts 12 bowling establishments, and, recently, a dozen 800-series games. It’s no wonder bowling is in his blood. Ladas says his dad and two uncles owned the first bowling alley in Joliet. He bowled in four leagues a week during his late teens and early 20s, and he held the league’s highest average at Auto Parts Bowling while attending Bradley.

A journalism major and member of Pi Kappa Alpha, Ladas credits his journalism professors with pushing him and preparing him for his first job as a sports writer at the Joliet Herald News. When a friend suggested that he interview for a sports broadcasting position at WJOL, Ladas says, “I didn’t know a thing about radio, except how to turn it on and off, but I worked my tail off and covered every sport there was. I remember broadcasting the 1956 Pony League World Series, via Western Union tickertape, and saying to myself, ‘I can broadcast anything now.’ ” An avid Bradley Braves fan, he is proud to mention his alma mater on the air and gratified that one of his three children, SHERI LADAS VOSS ’92, attended BU.

“It was a pleasure to be a legacy and follow my dad to his alma mater,” adds Voss, who is senior Enterprise account manager at XO Communications in Chicago. “I had four cousins with me at BU, so it was quite a family affair. My dad has so much to offer young people interested in sports broadcasting.”

The self-proclaimed sports fanatic has been inducted into nine Halls of Fame and shares endless anecdotes proving his professional dedication to baseball, softball, football, basketball, wrestling, and, of course, bowling. In fact, Gary Seymour, a former sports reporter for the Joliet Herald News, helped Ladas “put his thoughts together” and wrote The Voice of Joliet: The Life and Times of Hall of Fame Radio Sportscaster Don Ladas. The book features highlights from the “many outstanding days” of his career, and encounters with national sports heroes like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Ted Williams, and many other legends.

“In June, I took a three-week vacation,” says Ladas. “I couldn’t hang it up. I’m part of so many organizations. Life has been phenomenal, and a healthy attitude has kept me going. All my children and grandchildren live within a couple of miles. I’ve been so fortunate in my life through sports.”

Click below hear an audio of Ten Pin Topics.

 

Spare scholarship dollars

By Nancy Ridgeway

LAUREN WOLFE ’09 has found an unconventional way to raise money for college. The family and consumer sciences major became interested in bowling about four years ago when she began dating JIMMY SELLERS ’09, who has been bowling most of his life. She started going to the bowling alley with him and decided she wanted to try the sport.

“I picked it up very quickly,” says Wolfe, who soon was traveling two weekends each month to compete in youth division tournaments in Chicago, Iowa, and other locations. Instead of winning cash, youth bowlers up to age 21 earn scholarship dollars. The United States Bowling Council created the Smart Fund, where scholarship money from all youth events is collected. An online database allows students to see how much money they have available.

In the two years Wolfe bowled in youth division tournaments, she earned $2,500 in scholarship funds. She now plays in the adult division, where winners earn cash.

Wolfe’s average her first season was 141. “When I first started bowling, before I had a job, I would practice for hours a day. I still make a point to practice a couple times a week,” Wolfe says, noting her coaches have been Sellers and Tim Pallai, who runs the pro shop at Landmark Lanes in Peoria. “I never had official coaching, but they guided me. The three of us bowled in a league last fall.”

Wolfe, who ended last season with a 205 average, shot her first 300 — a perfect game — last February. She says her best accomplishment so far was scoring 837 in a three-game series in youth bowling. “That was the fifth highest score ever in the nation at the time for girls’ youth bowling,” she says, adding that the score still stands as a record in women and girls’ bowling in the Peoria area.

Noting that bowling is good exercise, Wolfe says, “It takes a lot of energy. In some tournaments, I bowl at least eight games—sometimes up to 12 or 13.” Wolfe, who throws 14-pound balls, says, “I have seven balls in my arsenal. It’s important to know your equipment. You don’t want to choose a ball because it’s pretty. It’s important to know what a ball does on each lane condition. Lanes can be slick with oil or dry. If they’re slick, you need something that moves more. If they’re dry, you need one that doesn’t move as much.”

She shares a pointer: “The one thing I’ve learned is spare shooting is the key to higher averages. When you get a tougher shot, it’s important to leave makeable spares.”

To take a historic look at bowling on campus, view the bowling slideshow.

 

Right up his alley | Ladas ’54 broadcasts for bowlers | Spare scholarship dollars | Herzog ’74 ready for season #33 | New coach throws out Cubs’ first pitch