For The Love of the Game|
When 23 year old Nick Hoagland won the 2001 Singles title on his fourth trip to the ABC Masters, it probably wasn't a surprise his parents Michael and Linda. They know that Nick has been in love with bowling since he was four years old. His Grandfather was a member of the American Legion and would take young Nick to bowl at the four lanes in the basement of the post. Nick often attended the Tournament of Champions (then held at Riviera Lanes in Akron, Ohio) since Akron was only about half an hour from his Canton home. At one time, Nick thought he wanted to be a professional bowler. However, the distractions of life made it impossible for him to put in as much practice time as he felt he would need to be successful.
While at Indiana University, studying Sports Marketing, bowling was still a part of Nick's life. He was teaching bowling classes and working in a bowling center. After graduating from college, and deciding to delay entry into graduate school, Nick got a "real" job. For two years he was the Lane Maintenance Director for the Midwest Region. Nick says, "Compared to having guys tell you about how your 'ruined their lives' with the oil pattern you put down…any job would be easy." On a whim, Nick sent his resume in to the PBA when he heard they were looking for a new Assistant Tournament Director. Now he is our "new kid" on the road and doing very well!
When offered the job with the PBA, Nick knew that he would have to move to Seattle Washington. He says it wasn't a difficult decision. "I could stay home and make seven dollars an hour in the bowling center, or have the dream job of a lifetime. I didn't have any second thoughts!"
Though not minding the travel itself, Nick does wish that he had a little more time to "see the sights" during the tour stops. It isn't unusual for Nick, and the rest of our road staff to work twelve to fifteen hour days, that doesn't leave much time for visiting the local zoo. Being away from home takes a toll on one's personal life also. It is very difficult to maintain relationships with only a telephone and email. Even when not "on tour" Nick is still very busy working in the Seattle office. There's scheduling problems, host center relations, rules issues and a myriad of other details to occupy his days.
It isn't all sleep deprivation, hotel rooms, rental cars and late night drive-thrus. In spite of all the hardships, Nick Hoagland loves his job! When Nick walks through the bowling center during pro-am squads and sees the pros having a good time and the elated amateurs…the rest seems worth it. "There is no doubt that the people are the best part of the job." Nick says. "When we come into a host center and the volunteers are there, and they are so excited and enthusiastic, that's great."
Even a full scholarship to graduate school couldn't keep Nick from taking advantage of the opportunity to work for the PBA. But, he did have a couple of concerns before he joined us on the tour. The fact that he is only 23 and the fact that he had been "in awe" of these guys as a bowling fan, worried him a little. Nick says, "I have guys twice as old as me, and I have to hand them fine slips and tell them 'you can't do that.' It's hard to think I grew up watching this guy on television and now I have to reprimand him." Nick has worked hard at earning respect by treating the bowlers fairly and with respect.
Nick feels that he joined the PBA at the right time. He says that the new owners of the PBA "have never failed at anything in their lives" and he thinks they will also be successful with the PBA. Steve Miller, in particular, has become a very important person to Nick. "Steve Miller is someone you just don't want to let down. When he asks you to do something, you have find a way to get it done. I can't stand to disappoint him." Nick says. "I could be here (with the PBA) a long time, depending on how things go. I think I am learning a lot and the company is constantly evolving. There are going to be a lot of opportunities in the future with this company."
Though Nick didn't join the PBA as a competitor, he is still a VERY good bowler. It takes a guy with quite a bit of talent to win the ABC Master Singles Championship. Nick is talented and bright and will continue to be an asset to the Professional Bowlers Association, for a long time! Welcome to our family Nick, we are a bit odd…but we have a good time!
Strikes and Ringers,