It Takes a Lot to Be A Champion – Bowling Memoirs of Johnny Petraglia

It takes a lot to be a champion. Obviously talent, great eye-hand coordination, and physical ability. However, there are other things, and they all have to do with the mind. I’ve watched bowlers win the practice session every week, but when the bell rings, something is missing. They’re just not there at the end. When bowling in a tournament, most people on tour know when it’s time to change balls, or when it’s time to move. It’s the ones that have the courage and the confidence to do it soon enough that are the winners. Almost every coach will tell you, “Don’t die a slow death.” Parker Bohn has 34 titles. One of the reasons is he will change at any point. I’ve watched Parker change in the most key situations (in the 10th frame on TV to win a game, as an example). Mark Roth would make a plane reservation for his wife BEFORE he left for the Brunswick Memorial World Open because he knew he was going to make the show. You can watch Pete Weber’s face and realize how much he’s enjoying the pressure on TV.

One year we were bowling in Portland, Oregon. Earl Anthony and myself were staying at Gary Mage’s house. The left side that week was terrible. No lefty came within 50 pins of getting a check. Earl made the finals, he finished 17th. I thought it was one of the best bowling performances I ever saw. After the tournament we were in Gary’s backyard having a bar-b-que. I mentioned to Earl how great I thought he bowled that week. He told me it was horrible. I said, “Earl, there was no other lefty close to you, you bowled great.” He said, “Listen to me, second is a bad week!”. For Earl, there was first, and nothing else. I guess that’s why he won 41 times.

So what makes great champions? My best explanation comes from a day with Jerome Bettis. We were doing a charity event together. I asked if he could come to New Jersey to my charity pro-am. He checked his schedule and said he could, but he would get in just in time for the pro-am and have to leave for a 6:00 a.m. flight. I picked up Jerome at 5:00 p.m. He bowled the 7:00 p.m. pro-am, and then sat on the ball return until midnight and everybody that wanted an autograph got one. We saved him some food, and around 1:00 a.m. I took him to the hotel. I planned to pick him up at 4:30 a.m. to go to the airport. On the drive to the Hotel I said, “Bus, you really went above and beyond what you had to do.” Jerome said, “John, I said yes.” I said, “I don’t understand.” He replied,

John, when you say YES you give 100% whether you’re on the football field, or doing a charity event. If you didn’t want to give 100%, YOU SAY NO!

So the first step in being a champion is to remind yourself, when you enter a tournament, you said YES!! So from the first ball to the last, you give 100%. If you don’t plan on doing that, don’t enter!

cento anni’..Johnny Petraglia

One thought on “It Takes a Lot to Be A Champion – Bowling Memoirs of Johnny Petraglia

  1. Chuck Bennett says:

    I watched Nelson Burton Jr. roll the highest (I believe it was 5 games) series on TV at that time, in the mid 80’s in St Louis, he changed his spot by 10 boards in the last game to win the trny. That just really amazed me at the time. CB

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