Building The Better Lady Bowler – In Nebraska
Feb 16, 2021Posted by james

In the eastern Nebraska cornfields, where football turns a university stadium into the state’s third most populous city, Coach Bill Straub built a college women’s bowling dynasty. Before he retired during 2019, The University of Nebraska Lady Cornhuskers bowling squad, under his direction, captured 10 national titles at club and NCAA levels.

The practice facility features a tremendous number of trophies and plaques that document 110 tournament titles in 226 competitions. The walls are filled with the photos of the 75 All-Americans, eight of whom were selected as national collegiate bowlers of the year. These scholar-athletes hail from around the globe – Arizona and Australia, Indiana and Indonesia, New England and England. During his two decades as head coach, Bill never told his many recruits that they were awesome bowlers. Instead, he always enticed them to be successful with a personal promise – he would help each woman become a better bowler.

When Bill started at Nebraska as a volunteer with the men’s team during 1983, taking time off from the men’s professional tour, he didn’t know anything about coaching college students. Bill researched other sports for guidance and he found his foundation in the teachings of college basketball coaches John Wooden and Bob Knight, and in a video by golf coach Dalton McCrary, who promotes ideal swing speed mechanics that can be replicated in bowling.

Bill created 10 bullet points for success for the Lady Cornhuskers that include exaggerated push away of the ball, controlled body movement and straight follow-through when releasing the ball. Beyond the ability of the Lady Huskers to adhere to Bill’s coaching strategies and alley metrics, along with the university’s academic standards, a specific kind of bowler always interested this coach. Bill preferred to recruit bowlers with multiple sport experiences to support the athletic and group dynamic components of the competition.

You really can’t raise an argument about the foundation that was created by Bill Straub. He built the program higher and higher every season with championship after championship. Now, the program is moving forward under the leadership of Paul Klempa, who served as Bill’s assistant for 22 years.

Bronx Infielder Hopes To Return To Yankee Stadium
Feb 01, 2021Posted by james

Andrew Velazquez is from the Morris Park section of The Bronx. He grew up at Yankee Stadium, too.

Andrew was good enough to play ball in the minor leagues, and after each season he returned to the big ballpark. Each visit served as personal motivation to improve his game as he strived to wear a major league uniform.

After playing ball all the time while growing up, Andrew toiled the infield at Fordham Prep, where he earned All-Bronx Player of the Year from “The New York Post.” He committed to Virginia Tech but opted to turn pro after high school. A seventh-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks during 2012, Andrew holds the record for reaching base in 74 consecutive minor league games, a mark he set with the 2014 Class-A South Bend Silver Hawks in the Midwest League. He broke the record of 71 that was held by a couple of players who would become Yankee rivals — Kevin Millar and Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox.

Andrew already has had his “cup of coffee” in the majors, playing briefly with the Tampa Bay Rays during 2018 and 40 games with the Baltimore Orioles last season. He played in three games at Yankee Stadium, with one plate appearance, as a member of the Rays. A personal dream, though, always has been to wear the Yankee pinstripes. That could occur this year. The 26-year-old infielder recently signed a minor league contract with the Yankees. By chance, Andrew’s personal trainer lives near Yankee Stadium, allowing the young player to picture himself playing at the ball yard as he passes it each day. More motivation.

Growing up a Yankees fan and as an infielder, we shouldn’t be surprised that Andrew wore #2 in tee-ball. But, there is a twist to Andrew’s story. When his father took him to a game at the stadium, Andrew became fascinated with an all-star infielder who happened to feature his number on a Yankees jersey. That is how Derek became Andrew’s favorite player.

“When I was in kindergarten [at St. Francis Xavier], I said I’d play in Yankee Stadium,’’ Andrew recently was quoted in a local newspaper. “I’m gonna bust my ass to get there again.”