Three BPAA Young Guns take aim at International Bowl Expo By Dick Evans



    Joe LaSpina, Nancy (Baum) Schenk, Mike Hall discuss learning from their legendary fathers

    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg When you interview athletes, who are children of Hall of Fame fathers in the same sport, then you often will hear that it is tough trying to make a name for themselves while cast in the shadow of their famous fathers.

    However, I did not come away with that impression while doing proprietor profiles on three children of three BPAA Hall of Fame members for the Bowling Center Management Magazine that the children of three BPAA Hall of Fame proprietors felt no such pressure -- only pride in the accomplishments of their fathers.

    One of the reasons for this lack of pressure is that all three had fathers taught them to love bowling and then showed them how to love being bowling proprietors.

    Joe LaSpina, Nancy (Baum) Schenk and Mike Hall all are starting to cast long shadows of their own and it will be apparent during International Bowl Expo June 21-25 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

    Oh yes, proud dads John LaSpina, Howard Baum and Wally Hall also will active but you can bet the BPAA Hall of Famers will be basking in their children's accomplishments.

    In the profiles below you soon will realize that they have three common characteristics -- pride in their fathers, love of bowling and faith in the sport's future -- but they have very different personalities.


    Joe LaSpina

    Son of BPAA Hall of Famer John LaSpina and a member of BPAA's Young Guns Committee.

    Wife: Mary Clare. No children.

    Bowling Background: Joe has been an avid bowler since childhood and still enjoys bowling. "I even went to the Dick Ritger camp twice but I still miss too many 10 pins. I have rolled a couple of 300 games and my high series is 799, which is a constant source of annoyance to me." Translated, he hates the fact he missed a magical 800 set by one pin.

    Joe oversees the operations of the five New York centers owned by the LaSpinas:
    • Maple Lanes, Brooklyn, 48 lanes (urban)
    • Hodges Lanes, Brooklyn, 34 lanes (urban)
    • JIB Lanes, Flushing, Queens, 48 lanes (urban)
    • Farmingdale Lanes, Farmingdale, 48 lanes (suburban)
    • Coram Country Lanes, Coram, 32 lanes (suburban)

    Each center has a general manager who reports to Joe LaSpina.

    He is not awed at being the son of a bowling legend. "I am asked the question a lot about how it feels being the son of a bowling legend. It's been very normal," Joe says.

    He is happy to be a member of the BPAA's Young Guns Committee. "More than anything, I've made some great friends through the group. And it's been a great way to get some new people active."

    Like most proprietors, Joe is a 100 percent behind the crusade to move all facets of bowling to the new International Bowling Congress in Arlington. "The more events we bring to Arlington to showcase bowling, the better. Think about the audience excitement if the USBC Tournament was there once the Testing/Training facility is up and running – if only to see 'Harry' the robot throw the ball."

    Joe LaSpina does not live and sleep bowling because he is also an avid baseball fan and said during the 2008 pennant race, "I'm trying to retain my sanity while the Mets' bullpen implodes." Unfortunately, the Mets did not make the playoffs.

    "My mom (Anita) is a librarian so I love to read. I have very little time to do it, but I do have a lot of books on tape in my car. I also enjoy cooking and doing crossword puzzles (usually doing all three at the same time – watching a game while cooking and doing a puzzle."

    If that multiple talent doesn't amaze you, then how about this combination: "I'm probably one of the few people in the world who likes both a really, really rare steak and also tofu."


    Nancy (Baum) Schenk

    Daughter of Hall of Fame Member Howard Baum and a member of BPAA's Young Guns Committee.

    Husband: Gary.
    Children: Avery (5) and Alex (3).

    Position: General Manager/Proprietor of B&B Bowling Lanes, Fayeteville, N.C.

    "I can't remember not bowling and going to Wolfpack (N.C. State) football and basketball games," Nancy says. "I truly love bowling. It was never a family mandate that we bowl, in fact my sister Marcia quit bowling at age 10. But I have always enjoyed being at the center and bowling.

    "I think my dad is a great man and has done great things in bowling, but I am not him. Both my parents (mother Lynda) taught me to believe in myself and that anything is possible. So now I am who I am and make my own decisions, and most of the time my father even approves (usually after the fact)."

    But Nancy remembers one time her father indirectly made a big decision for her. She wanted to go to the University of North Carolina and her father wanted her to go to his beloved North Carolina State. When he said she could become a Tarheel if she paid her own way to college, but he would pay her tuition to go to N.C. State...she became another faithful Wolfpack fan. She went to N.C. State and earned an engineering degree.

    She loves being a member of the BPAA's Young Guns Committee.

    "I love that committee for two reasons. It has exposed me to the inter-workings of BPAA and allowed me to realize how much I want to be a part of the BPAA and Board of Directors. The second reason I love the committee is the friendships I have made. I now have a group of people of my own age who truly care about my success and vice versa and that is comforting and empowering at the same time."

    Nancy would endorse a USBC national tournament being held in Arlington, "but only after everything is complete, including the Hall of Fame. The International Bowl Expo also could have several events at the International Bowling Campus and it would be fun to have a Salute to the Hall at the actual Hall of Fame site itself."

    Between work and being a mother to daughter Avery and son Alex, Nancy has very little free time but is not complaining.

    "The best part of my life right now is being a mom. I knew that it would be hard work and rewarding, but I never imagined it would be this much fun."

    Like her dad, she is a huge N.C. State fan and attends almost all of the Wolfpack football and basketball games when she is not in the kitchen..."I love to bake, but not cook."


    Mike Hall

    Son of Hall of Famer Wally Hall and a member of BPAA's Young Guns Committee.

    Bachelor: "I never have been married nor have I had any children other than my loyal friend 'Cody,' who is a two-year-old yellow Labrador retriever. He's not sure if his name is 'Down' or 'No' but you have to love him."

    Bowling Background: "Growing up, I was around bowling my entire childhood. I would go to all the National and Regional conventions and enjoyed meeting new friends and spending time with them. Over the years, these friendships have grown to become more like one big family.

    "I began bowling in the Rising Stars program when I was seven-years-old. I have bowled my entire life but still have not had that perfect game. Someday I may master this sport.

    "So yes, I enjoyed the sport and bowling is life."

    Mike has spent the past 15 years learning about each and every area in a bowling center. His current title is vice-president of Hall Bowling Investments, which include three centers in Arundel County, Maryland.

    They are:
    • Annapolis Bowl, a 32-lane tenpin center
    • Greenway Bowl, a 40-lane tenpin center
    • Severna Park Lanes, a split house featuring 16 tenpin and 16 duckpin lanes

    Mike thinks he is very fortunate to be the son of a bowling legend. "My father has this huge mass of knowledge, which given the opportunity to learn from has given me a great advantage in becoming a successful bowling leader. I can only hope someday to have contributed half of what my father has contributed to this industry in his lifetime.

    "My father is a legendary leader and my father and mother (Joyce) were great parents."

    Mike also is an advocate of the BPAA's Young Guns committee. "I think the formation of the Young Guns is one of the highlights of this decade."

    He also is a strong supporter of the International Bowling Campus in Arlington. "It is vital to this industry. What better way to get great exposure for the sport of bowling than have everything under one roof."

    Although Mike enjoys bowling in a league, he has other leisure things he also enjoys doing – "spending time outdoors while fishing, boating, jet skiing, camping or snow skiing."

    He also a "serious love for country music so if I am not working, I'm at a concert or in the mountains or on an island somewhere in the Carribean."

    Or, he could be saying "down " or "no" to a doggne goodl friend -- Cody.

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