Bowling Coaches Hall of Fame to induct Gordon Vadakin

    05/05/12

    USBC Coaching

    LaVerne Carter and Joe Wilman added to Trailblazers Category

    2012CoachesHoFGordonVadakin.jpgWichita State University (WSU) Head Bowling Coach Gordon Vadakin (pictured left) has been chosen as the 2012 inductee into the Bowling Coaches Hall of Fame, which is now in its fifth year of recognizing the greatest coaches in bowling.

    Vadakin joins previous inductees Dick Ritger, Tom Kouros, John Jowdy, and Fred Borden in bowling's newest Hall of Fame.

    Only one coach is honored yearly among bowling's active coaches; but coaches from bowling's rich history who are deceased or retired are also recognized in the Trailblazers category. This year's Trailblazer inductees are Joe Wilman and LaVerne Carter.

    Previous Trailblazers honored are Lou Ballissimo, Buddy Bomar, Bill Bunetta, Frank Clause, Ned Day, Chief Halftown, Floretta McCutcheon, Andy Varipapa, Doc Hattstrom, Helen Duval, Don Johnson, Paul Krumske, Bill Taylor, Joe Kristof, Jeanette Robinson, and Marion Ladewig.

    Vadakin is well known as perhaps the most successful collegiate bowling coach of all time. He took the WSU head coaching job in 1978, and since then has personally coached his teams to 17 of their 19 national collegiate championships, nine for the women's teams and ten for the men.

    Grooming great bowlers is what they do at WSU, but more important is Vadakin's emphasis on getting a quality education and training for a successful career and life beyond college.

    "Some of our players leave us and go on to become great professional bowlers," he said. "But we are equally proud of those who become successful in business and life in general. We learned very early on that great students and great people make great bowling athletes."

    A few of the top stars of the game that were coached by Vadakin and his staff at WSU include Chris Barnes, David Garber, Rick Steelsmith, Kassy Hyman, Anita Manns, Pat Healey, and this year's PBA Tournament of Champions winner, Sean Rash.

    Vadakin was a top bowler himself before making coaching his career. He earned a spot and bowled on Team USA in 1983 and 1989, and he owns two USBC National Open Championship titles and is a member of the USBC Hall of Fame.

    He won the Tournament of the America's singles, individual, and team all-event titles in 1989 and was voted Bowlers Journal International's Amateur Bowler of the Year that year.

    Vadakin is in several Halls of Fame on the local, state and national level; but he confessed this one is very special. "What makes this an incredible honor is to just have my name mentioned with such coaching legends as Borden, Ritger, Kouros Johnson, Duval, and all the others."

    Vadakin credits two coaches who are also in the hall as his greatest influences - Bill Bunetta and last year's inductee Fred Borden.

    Before he became the WSU head coach, Vadakin assisted with annual clinics conducted in Wichita by Coach Bunetta. "He started our program on a path to continue to acquire knowledge; and we continue that philosophy today," said Vadakin.

    "Beyond that however, the greatest influence has been Coach Borden. He has inspired countless coaches all over the world; not just with his skill and knowledge, but with his love of the game. He deeply hooked our coaching staff, and I would like to believe we possess and communicate that same passion and love to our athletes."

    2012CoachesHoFLaVerneCarter.jpgCoaches Joe Wilman and LaVerne Carter are being recognized this year for their contributions to the game in an era when coaching was very much a part of the culture of bowling.

    Carter (left) passed away this year only two months after the passing of her famous husband Don. Both were remembered as great bowlers, but before Laverne met Don, she made her living as a coach, traveling the country giving clinics and exhibitions.

    When her name was LaVerne Thompson in the late 1940's, she moved to Los Angeles where she married a police detective and became LaVerne Haverly. It was there she was first dubbed "The Blonde Bombshell."

    It was also a time when she launched her "Bowl with LaVerne" Clinics, which stared in California in 1946, but spread across the country, drawing large crowds in 168 bowling centers through the 1953 season.

    2012CoachesHoFJoeWilman.jpgOne writer listed his reasons why the clinics were so successful. The account reads "Without much financial backing, the production was a superb success. LaVerne backed the program with her natural ability, great showmanship, personality, time and energy."

    One reason Joe Wilman (right) is being recognized this year for his coaching accomplishments is because Bowl Expo 2012 is honoring heroes, including military, and Wilman spent a great deal of his coaching career traveling to do exhibitions and clinics on military bases.

    As a bowler, the happy-go-lucky Wilman won four ABC titles and was the first with two, 2000 all events totals; but as a coach, he was regarded as one of the game's leading instructors and analysts.

    He also was noted for his ability to 'play' and teach others how to adjust to lane conditions, which made him a top radio and television commentator and analyst in his era. Wilman was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame in 1951. He passed away in 1969 at age 64.