With the 5 Pin Universe launching their new web page a few weeks ago, Karie Kreutz, myself, and a few different contributors will be starting up a new set of blogs. A few years ago Jeff Young from Ontario had a great blog (http://5pinbowling.blogspot.ca) that ran a few years. In this blog- Jeff Young, Steve Barker, and their contributors had sit down interviews with recent tournament champions to living legends. They also had great insight on many aspects of the game- ranging from coaching to innovation of the sport with Jeff and Tom England, to an overview of recent events.
Our first interview is with the newly crowned Traditional Champion - Derek Gall.
Derek hails from Sherwood Park, Alberta - a local suburb of the bowling hot bed of Edmonton.
For those who do not know Derek, his brief - young career has had some great accomplishments. Derek had a pretty extensive youth career, playing out of Sherwood Bowl. He made 3 Nationals in his youth career with his crowning achievement coming in 2008 winning the Senior Boy’s Single in his hometown.
Hitting the adult ranks just a mere 6 years ago, Derek has always been a staple of the WBT where he has had many cashes. It wasn’t his first time he has made a big splash in the Traditional. He hit the “Final Four” back in 2011, the same year his “YOU BETCHA” echoed through Heritage Lanes as pizza was spit out on Gene Ziebarth’s lane during the Friday night Bakers.
Derek has had success with the Open. Derek has made the Open multiple times from the deep Edmonton field, where recently in 2012 he helped lead their team to National in Gatineau. In Gatineau Derek was played well enough to win ‘Rookie of the Year” honors as well getting an All-Star nod in his rookie Nationals.
Here is our interview with Derek Gall a week after his big win in Red Deer:
Tell us a bit how your bowling career got started.
My dad took me and my brother to sign up for sports in Vegreville when I was just a kid and there were three choices, hockey, bowling, and karate. I picked bowling and that’s when it all began.
And what was your average throughout your time with the YBC program?
My highest average in ybc was 248
Who coached you in your younger years?
I went through quite a few coaches but each had their own impact. Shannon Roden, Christine Wren, Jim Bradshaw, and Cisco Beyersbergen to name a few.
There were many youth Edmonton players about your age who have gone on to success in the adult ranks. Who were some of your rivals back then, and how much do you think it helps having lots of competition growing up?
The competition in house was pretty intense let alone other players from around the city. The boys from Red Deer always seemed to give us a good run for our money at youth challenge and 4 steps though.
Growing up in Edmonton, as you hit the adult ranks there were many great players to learn from. Who, in particular helped to positively influence your career?
I kind of kept to my own when I hit the adult ranks, Vince Chartier and Mike Lacoursiere took me onto their team on Wednesday match and really got me exposed to the higher end bowlers. I struggled my first couple years as an adult and it was a steep learning curve. Everyone that I talked to was really supportive though.
You mentioned those who have helped you with your career, but simply as a fan, who do you enjoy watching?
Anybody that is bowling really well is always a pleasure to watch and you see a lot of that here in Edmonton. Anybody that brings intensity and gets fired up is awesome to watch too.
You've always had to compete in one of the deepest and most talented Open zones in Alberta Do you resent this, or do you appreciate the fact that every time you DO qualify, you'll be on a great team with a chance to win?
I didn’t make a team for 3 years and that was really disappointing, it was hard from going from being so successful to being just average. I had to put in a lot of time and work to elevate my game to make the teams. Everybody in the zone is great and no matter who you make it with you know guys are going to show up, I’d rather it be harder than easier because it makes everybody better.
Speaking of the Open, you are currently playing the Alberta Provincials next week in Red Deer. What are your thoughts on the upcoming week?
I think it’s going to be a grind. It’s going to be tough to stay level headed with the tough scoring but if you can then good on you. If a team gets hot I think they’ll be able to really run away with it. It’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top.
It was a shame I wasn’t able to see you win Derek, but other than Dexter win the TPC, it was one of my favorite moments hearing you win the Championship. What are some of your most memorable bowling moments involving others?
I won ybc singles nationals my last year of ybc and it meant a ton to me. I threw a lot of clutch balls and just bowled out of my mind, I definitely wasn’t settling for anything but gold and it felt amazing to come out on top.
Winning your 1st WBT Tournament this past weekend in Red Deer.. How did it feel when you accomplished this incredible feat?
I was more relieved I didn’t have to throw another ball, it was a long day and I was sore for about 3 days after. It felt amazing to win, I’d come very close at a couple of other tournaments and losing always leaves a bitter taste and left me wanting more, it’s nice to have memories of winning now instead of falling short.
Did you do anything special before this tournament than any other? What preparations did you do in order to win the Championship?
I did my best to have fun; I stayed up late on Saturday and tried to keep my mind off Sunday as long as I could to not psych myself out before I threw a ball.
Since it has been a few days since you won the Traditional, and have had time to reflect back at it, what comes to mind when you look back at it?
It’s tough to win without getting a little luck, the sun shone on me that day and some crucial breaks went my way and saved me. Not to say that I didn’t bowl well though.
For those who haven’t see you play Derek, could you explain your shot?
It’s a hook/straight ball from the left side but pretty much straight at the head pin. I get a better reaction out of the left pocket so that’s where I try to hit.
Knowing you well Derek, I know you like to use a specific size and weight for certain houses or situations. For your win, what type of ball with the specifications did you use?
I was using 5inch 3 lbs 8 oz starlines for everything but the last half of the eights and to the final. They seemed to push the pins over and didn’t leave many corners. I started bowling poorly with them though and made a switch to the house balls which I’d seen just about everyone was using and they worked really well for me.
What is your favourite centre to play at?
I’ve always enjoyed heritage because it’s just generally a really nice place and usually good scoring. I know this year scoring has been harder this year but sometimes that helps to keep the strongest players at the top.
Speaking of your favorite centre, what about this center puts this on top of your list?
It’s run really well and the people that own it really care about it. You can see the effort and it shows.
And what is your favourite tournament, and why?
Probably the traditional, it’s just nice that if you catch someone hot you only play them once and you don’t shoot 820 for 3 and lose. You can have a bad game and dig yourself out of it.
With the recent big win, what else do you have on “your bucket list”?
I’ve never medaled at nationals with a team and our open team is really strong this year. We still have to get through provincials but I like our chances.
We have been talking about the good, but what about the ugly? Do you have any embarrassing bowling moments if any?
Two years ago at open provincials I threw a double in ten and thought I had the match, I threw away my last ball and ripped a 3 to lose by 1 and I thought I had won. No high fives were given to me haha.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
I think people don’t understand how bad my will to win really is, there are a couple of guys that can go to another gear and I’d like to think I can be one of those guys.
What are the main concerns you have with 5-Pin and what can be done to improve our game?
While there are still a lot of good up and coming youth bowlers it just feels like the overall competitiveness is down. Things like youth challenge have had contingents double the amount of players at provincials and it doesn’t seem as prestigious anymore. It used to be competitive to make the teams and now it’s a formality for a lot of the bowlers.
Sunday night, while bowling our match play league an hour and a half away at Sherwood Park, I was able to get updates through text messages, social media and the internet on how you were doing. With this information so readily available now a days, in what way could we further expand our sport for the good using it?
I think live streaming would be a great thing or even live updates of scores to websites. There are a lot of good ideas out there and it will be interesting to see where things go with stuff like the WCBT
And finally, what advice would you give to bowlers who are looking to improve?
Go in and practice but don’t go in to just throw balls. You’ll only be as good as your biggest weakness and a well-rounded game is hard to beat. I practiced a lot before open qualifying and came 3rd mostly because I didn’t have a bad game and not because I threw a big game. Tom Paterson’s book is also a good tool to use.
Derek, thank you for taking your time out of your busy school schedule to give us some insight on the big weekend it was for you. As a friend and competitor, congrats on the big win again!
We thank everyone for reading our blog. We hope to continue on something special that Jeff Young, Steve Barker and contributors started a few years back. We are currently looking for comments, suggestions and more contributors on upcoming articles. We look to interview recent tournament winners, the evolution of our sport, and hopefully some current insight of certain aspects of our game.