Conflict resolution, a bonding session, fitness and nutrition.
At first glance these things might not seem to have much to do with bowling but they were all part of the program for some of the country's bowling elite this month at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
The week of sessions was the first event for the eight women, eight men and coaching staff of Team USA, including first-year women's team player Janette Piesczynski of Cheektowaga.
"I thought we'd do a lot more bowling," Piesczynski said of her first impression of the week's activities. "I had heard there was more bowling in the past. This year we had only about 13 hours (on the lanes) over the eight days."
If not bowling, then what?
"We had seminars on lane conditions, (how to read) oil patterns, bowling balls, drilling, conflict resolution," Piesczynski said.
"That was with a sports psychologist," she said. "You picked a scenario, like athlete confrontation. Say your roommate was staying out too late or maybe just being obnoxious. You'd be asked to confront the situation and try to arrange a solution."
Since the makeup of Team USA changes from year to year, it's likely conflicts will appear and, after all, one of the goals of Team USA is unity.
Piesczynski said she has already experienced some of the scenarios presented during her two years with with Erie CC's team. There are no all-encompassing answers to the conflicts, but awareness of the situations and realizing a need to solve the problem are good beginnings, she said.
Team USA is getting into some new areas such as strength, arm motion and body fat testing, while standbys like conditioning and nutrition remain in the program.
"Conditioning is important," Piesczynski said. "I used to go to a gym and work out but now we have a program to follow and we have information on weight training.
"I never thought about nutrition too much before. I've started to watch what I eat and lose some weight. I'm not eating as much fast food, but more fruits and vegetables."
The teams also worked at the Computer Aided Tracking System (CATS), which records and analyzes ball speed, consistency of the ball's path, accuracy and ball rotation rate, among other things. Then the coaches went to work.
On the lanes the coaches worked with Piesczynski on changing her hand position and span, and on her wrist position in conjunction with reading the lanes.
"I tried to change my wrist position before but I couldn't do it consistently," she said. "Now, when I read a lane condition and know what I want to do, I want to be able to change my wrist position instead of changing bowling balls."
Piesczynski said she'll be practicing four or five days a week after the holidays. She said, in general, the coaches were satisfied with her skills. "My game is pretty simple and basic. They are happy with that and don't want to change much physically.
"I'm looking forward (to the year with Team USA). One day we had a bonding session where we sat around and talked about personal experiences. We're a lot closer now. It was definitely a positive learning experience."
Like father, like son
Frank Iacono has joined the rare ranks of fathers and sons with 300 games and the rarer group of doing it in the same year (although in different seasons).
Frank's perfect game came last week in the Thursday Jim Schroeder's Seniors league at Tonawanda Bowling Center, while one of son Tom's two 300s came early this year in the Men's C League at Delaware Lanes.
"It was pretty exciting," Frank said of his first career 300. "During the 10th frame the next shift was coming in, so there were a lot of people there.
"The first two (in the 10th) were right in the pocket but on the 12th ball my legs sort of turned to rubber. It hit a little light but it carried. It was like scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl."
A 64-year-old from the Town of Wheatfield, Iacono retired from DuPont four years ago.
"The lane conditions were perfect for the way I bowl," Iacono said. "I just lined up straight with the 10th board and two-thirds of the way down the ball hooked into the pocket."
Iacono bowls in two Schroeder leagues, averaging 201 on Thursday and 214 in the Tuesday league at Mil-Sher. He also subs in another league at Tonawanda.
"Before I retired I was on shift work for five or six years and unable to bowl," Iacono said. "(Previously) I bowled in the DuPont leagues for years and bowled in some classic and B leagues," where he averaged 200 a couple of times but was mostly in the 190s.
Iacono said it wasn't either of his son's 300 that got him thinking about one for himself. "I always wondered it if would ever happen," he said.
Around the lanes
The Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) is developing a Junior Olympic Gold Program that will lead to a Junior Olympic team patterned after Team USA. One step on that road is a Junior Olympic National Tournament planned for June 1998. The second of seven Buffalo Gold YABA Tournaments at Thruway Lanes is set for Monday at noon. It's a singles scratch event for girls with a 165 minimum average and boys with a 175 minimum. The winner earns a paid entry to the national tournament (a $100 value) and the first three places will receive scholarships. Entry is $25. A USA Junior Olympic Gold Card is also required and may be purchased at the tournament for an additional $25. . . . Tonawanda Bowling Center will host a TV Challenge qualifier on New Year's Eve with squads from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The top 12 qualify for the $1,000 first place TV show. Entry is $25. . . . Lancaster Lanes will hold a handicap singles tournament (100 percent of 215 average) on New Year's Eve with squads at 9:30 and 11 a.m., 12:30 and 2 p.m. with finals at 3:30. Entry is $25 with $750 for first place based on 100 entries.