Several weeks ago, I introduced Todd Shipman by publishing an article he submitted about Milton Raymer, who's credited with organizing the first youth bowling leagues in the nation. Over the past couple of weeks, Todd has sent me more information about who he is. I like Todd's message because the gist of what he says is, “You’ve got to give it a try, regardless of what your situation or circumstances are.”
I quote him here: “No matter what age you start bowling, Juniors or as an Adult, or what path you take, or where you start, you can make it in the PBA (Professional Bowler's Association). I really liked my path; even though there have been many challenges, I'll keep that path. There are so many people out there willing to help you. I say, 'JUST DO IT, try it out.'" --Todd Shipman--
You'll see that Todd didn't have an easy road, but his dream was to join the PBA. He persevered and achieved that goal. My hat's off to him. Here, then, is Todd's story" ---
Hello to Readers:
I don't remember exactly when Milt Raymer moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, but I'm sure he was the same guy who lived in Chicago, Illinois. I know he's in the USBC Chicago-land Hall of Fame. For the time I was in the American Junior Bowling Congress leagues, 1969 to 1975, I recall that he was there most of the time.
Our family moved to Highlands, North Carolina after I graduated high school in 1975 and my bowling pretty much came to a stop. I had to go to work and attended Southwestern Technical Institute in Sylva, NC, from 1977 - 1979. My two-year degree was in Food Service Management.
In late 1979, I joined the Navy as a cook and was assigned to the USS Nimitz CVN 68 until late 1982. While the Nimitz was in dry dock in 1981, I bowled for three months and averaged 165. At that time, there was scarcely any thought of going to the pros, but I watched them on TV as often as I could. "The PBA Tour," was on Saturdays at 3:00 PM, for many years in the early 70's and 80's.
I was transferred to Keflavik, Iceland, which was a combined US Navy Communications, US Air Force Station, an a NATO installation. There was one bowling alley in the country; but, believe it or not, this was where my bowling career started to come back. I was asked to bowl on a team. Using a house ball, I attained a solid 180 average and was seeing scores and numbers I had never seen in the junior leagues.
I was then transferred to the Great Lakes Naval Training Base just north of Chicago, Illinois, and continued my bowling. I joined a Singles Scratch League that bowled during lunch time since I was assigned to the night shift. This no-handicap experience pushed me to look for greater opportunities in the pros before the next two years passed.
"Flip" Flaminio, the local pro and bowling center manager, encouraged me to give up the old bowling ball and antiquated equipment for new and updated stuff. Thanks to his advice, I finished that 1984 - 1985 season with a 215 average and won the singles league that bowled at the Rynish Bowling Center on Great Lakes.
I finally got to work day shift and joined leagues in the Chicago area, joining the Monday Traveling Scratch League (you really earned your average in that one), and others on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
During the same period, I teamed up with Jerry Martin, another good bowler on the base. Together, we dominated the Command tournaments for the next two or three years. We were literally unstoppable, winning just about everything that was conducted at the base.
A PBA Regional tournament came to Great Lakes in 1985 and I entered as an amateur just to see what I could do. I didn't cash, but the experience really fueled my urge to bowl as a professional. In early 1986, I sent in my application to join the Professional Bowler's Association.
At that time, all new applicants were required to attend the PBA Qualifying School within the first year of applying. I attended the school in Indianapolis, Indiana in November of that year. Although I was having what I felt was a bad month of bowling, I somehow managed to pass. I received notification I'd been accepted as a member of the PBA, the greatest and toughest organization for elite-level bowlers in the world.
(To be continued in "Todd Shipman, My PBA Story 2.")
A Hui Hou! (See You Again!)