The Traveling Masters is Life By Alan Brizee © July 24, 1999, rev. Apr. 2020
NOTE: This was on the Traveling Masters website in 1999. From here on, T.M. is the Traveling Masters league. I just spent three days, not the entire day, going through newsletters from the nine plus seasons I was secretary of the T.M. league. It was to update articles I wrote ten years ago and correct the few errors some had. These articles on the history of the T.M., may help leagues in the future as leagues continue to fold and change centers due to some centers closing their doors for good. There are less league bowlers than 20 years ago during Tucson’s best league, the Vantage Lite Traveling Masters. I hope you noticed that I have promoted the leagues sponsors, Vantage Bowling Centers and Miller Lite beer. These great sponsors were one reason why many bowlers flocked to the T.M. league. Adding almost $10,000 to the prize fund will get everybody’s attention. The T.M. happened because the bowlers enjoyed the competition and all the excitement that was offered them. Sort of, the best of two worlds. A great decade of time and memories of great bowling, made it one of the best times in Tucson to be alive! And to be able to bowl at high level myself, made it even more memorable! I have two articles on the T.M. league, the history of the league and promoting for leagues. Promoting helped the league have a history and the history was the reason I kept promoting the T.M. league.
Competing with most of the best bowlers from Tucson, not only made me a better bowler, but the challenges I faced were second to none. It was both rewarding and fun at the same time. Did I mention fun? I keep telling everyone, if it’s not fun, then why would you continue to show up? With the rewards and fun, there was several learning opportunities. Reliving the past with such great memories is easier when you enjoyed most of the moments. Looking back at the nine years seems like it happened just yesterday, and took less time than waiting out the current coronavirus situation, that has bowling centers temporarily closed. The only live sports on TV is computer racing and a basketball HORSE tournament. I’m getting by, but it’s not really living without being able to bowl. Bowling was the sport I tried, after an accident during baseball and playing golf, and was the sport I fell in love with. Two weeks ago, I was walking to try to lose more weight. A mile and a half from home and my left knee was causing pain. I hobbled home. The 50 years from bowling is showing its age. Everyone says this will happen when you get older. I’ve had slight problems in the past with my knee, but nothing like this. Rehab is helping a little and only time will tell, what’s next. Maybe switching hands J. Now as I was reliving some glory days of the T.M., that maybe some of the excitement could help future leagues. The excitement from my first seven seasons, is what many would say, I was living life. How many were looking forward for Monday? Well, if you bowled in the T.M., it was a great start to the work week. I was a carpenter who had to get up at 4 A.M. to work the next day, so being a little tired on Tuesday was the normal. Bowling in the T.M. never got old, at least my first seven seasons. It has been said too many times, make every moment count. I know most of you who were around back then will agree, I made the most of every moment and adding up all those moments created success. It was these moments in the T.M. that made it worth living.
The little things can be huge to the majority of bowlers, like to get rewarded when they shoot well. After reliving history, I can say that there was maybe too much going on J. That’s right Roy, I said it J. But remember, when the T.M. started with 12 teams, they kept coming back for several reasons. The super league sponsors that guaranteed great money to all bowlers. Organizing Tucson’s best sweeper was like bowling a side tournament for 3 games. It paid great if bowlers shot great scores and eventually had guaranteed money for lower averages. The weekly events for all averages with a chance to win weekly cash. The league may never have gotten to 24 teams if I didn’t promote the league in Desert Bowler. The paper was just one way to get bowlers aware of the excitement, as I used every possible way to promote. Choices, choices and many more choices while I was secretary. It was because of the many opportunities to stake a claim at extra cash, which helped the league double in size, four season later. It didn’t happen by accident, it happened because I was willing to put some time, and sponsor a few events that occurred in the T.M. It was my greatest period of time bowling. For the members of the league, showing up to bowl, was what life was about during this time period.
It was most definitely a surreal experience as the league was able to attract bowlers and retain them because of what the league offered them. No other league of any kind in relation to the size of its league, offered more and paid out more. Some of what was offered, the T.M. was the first league in Tucson to offer it. Since this article is about life, life is about experiencing new things and learning from them. It’s also about enjoying the experiences that can make life fun. A lot of the fun came from creating events for more ways to cash than any other league. I felt that starting an optional doubles would only increase the interest within the T.M. For any scratch leagues to continue to be successful, it must have good competition, a good prize fund where the majority of the teams are still getting decent money back, optional events to keep the excitement from week to week and league officers must be working together. Can you say unique?
It was unique because of the following, maybe unbelievable, but kept adding up to 27 ways. It is because of these 27 ways, the Vantage Lite Traveling Masters league , was the best league ever in the history of bowling. A bold statement indeed.That’s right bowling fans, I did write 27 ways. Even those that bowled the league would never have thought it was 27. Even I didn’t realize it was going to be 27 until it started making this list. Ten items on the list were T.M. exclusives, as I introduced them first to the T.M. league and no other league that I know of, has tried it after the T.M. And yes, I did say 27 and yes, I’m item 27 because I’m unique. No other secretary has put up part of their salary back into the league or has done the extra work I did. It was about doing something such as the first 26 items, that no other secretary has even come close to, and I just wanted bowlers to just have one of the greatest experiences bowling in a league. Isn’t this, living the dream?
The following list gave the T.M. bowlers an experience they will never forget:
1. The Traveling Masters continued the qualifying/ divisional format.
2. I had ink pens for each team into an envelope to fill out their sanction cards.
3. A mini book being the many statistics passed out every fifth week.
4. Five stats that grew to six were used to win a $15 entry into the sweeper.
5. The optional doubles league offered to the T.M. was a first for Tucson.
6. The weekly newsletter I included with the league standings and stats.
7. I wrote the monthly article for the T.M. in the Desert Bowler.
8. I was the webmaster on Feb. 23, 1999 for The Traveling Masters league website.
9. The great sponsors of the league being Vantage Bowling Centers and Miller Lite Beer.
10. The total prize fund of $52,758.
11. Traveling to at least five bowling centers.
12. The T.M. would have weekly Strike pots.
13. I started the T.M. Bowling for Bucks with 13 strikes.
14. I got a league board up at all five centers to post standing sheets and my weekly newsletter.
15. Over $90,000 paid out for the season.
16. The Roll-Offs were unique because of the unique format for the league.
17. Trophies and plaquesfor the champions.
18. The promotions in the T.M. were second to none.
19. The many, many optional events with most paying weekly.
20. The bowlers winning weekly brackets guaranteed to cash in the sweeper’s Tournament of Champions.
21. I organized Tucson’s best sweeper from the day I was elected secretary/ treasurer.
22. And reliving a decade of bowling, the list wouldn’t be complete without the super sponsors of the sweeper.
23. Can you say, free events? More FREE MONEY and free events than any league you ever bowled in.
24. The sweeper prize fund deductions is why it was Tucson’s best sweeper.
25. The door prizes that I spent many hours on.
26. Another T.M. league exclusive were the mini bowling pins.
27. And with all that was offered, someone had to promote the league.
WOW!!! As you can see, the T.M. was an adventure. Life is about adventure and the choices you’ll decide on, and bowlers had many choices for optional events that happened in the league. Would you believe that 637 bowlers lived life in either the Tucson Bowl Masters from 1991-96 or the Traveling Masters from 1996-06 league? The T.M. had the right chemistry for late 1990’s and early 2000’s because I was willing to make the league a different experience from any other league. And because, half of the members showed their appreciation, I continued to keep it Tucson’s best league. Some bowlers spent an additional $40 per week on the choices that were offered. The choices offered is why it was Tucson’s best scratch league ever. My saying is that if you don’t take time to enjoy the view, you may not have the time to enjoy it later.
Now for the original exciting article about life and the T.M.:
Life, is like bowling in the Traveling Masters. It’s about family, working, learning, dedication, challenges, intimidation, routine, responsibility, relaxing, traveling and of course sports. You’ll have happy and sad moments. Disagreements is also a part of life. Being competitive is a part of life as well. Life must be lived with sports. It’s a way to forget about your job and personal problems. That’s where bowling comes in J. Your team will be like your family and supporting each other. Bowling may seem like work at times, but this work can make it a learning experience, and help get you ready for tournaments. And since you show up to bowl, the good bowlers are relaxed and forget about their problems during the league. It can be fun while a few other times can definitely be frustrating. For at least 10% of the league, it can be profitable. The experiences bowling while traveling around Tucson, have helped several bowlers in the league shoot and set various records. There is nothing like the sweet smell of success. There are many that not only love to bowl, but bowl to live. Those that have experienced the T.M. league have lived bowling to its fullest. Over 90% of the members, participate in at least one optional event. It is in these events where risking a few extra dollars, makes life more rewarding. Not just from the money you could win, but from the experiences and enjoyment, that you tried your best during an individual competition. One way to climb to the next level is to challenge yourself, risking some money and have a party to celebrate the victory when successful. Life can be sweet.
I have made the T.M. Roll-Offs three times, winning the league in my first season. I won the optional doubles league in my final full season as secretary. Being on the right team where they are having fun reduces the pressure of winning. Your team, like your family, should help you have fun, as having fun usually makes for a winning atmosphere. Having teammates who don’t worry about one bad week or getting to wrapped up about any bad break will help your team. Being able to bounce back after them, will be huge in achieving your goal of making the Roll-Offs. Those who put the past behind them sooner can start their climb to the top sooner. The frustration can set in when nothing seems to work and the fun stops. Changing equipment at times doesn’t help. There are times when I know that my timing is off and when that occurs, it’s tough to string strikes. When I’m not throwing strikes, my goal is to stay clean as clean games win 75% of the time when bowling match play. This is the time when making changes can be a learning experience. Life is like my experience in the T.M., learning from all situations and making decisions is what must happen in life. Not all the decisions I’ve made in bowling over 50 years have been the right decisions. But I have learned that all situations will not end with great results. For some situations, over thinking has led to lower scores. But like life, having a positive attitude has rewarded me many times over. Planning, expectations and confidence will get you places in life and sports. I have at times, played the lanes to reduce opens on difficult conditions. It helped win bracket matches, and sometimes was essential for the team to win points. It can play some part with your team getting a shot at the Roll-Offs down the line. If you learn something when things are going bad, the future may hold success. Trying to have fun when things are not going your way is the difference between a bowler with a good mental game, and a bowler that just gets frustrated. Working on your mental game could bring your focus to 20/ 20 vision. Or you might have to get your eyes checked J.
Adjusting to four slightly different conditions every month is a challenge that most bowlers should welcome. Nobody ever said sports or life was going to be easy. If life give you a few lemons, most will try to make the best of it. And some will make lemonade. Always bowling on easy conditions will increase your average, but will it make you a better bowler come tournament time? It would only help on an easy condition, but on a grind out condition, would probably get you frustrated. Bowling on five different conditions can be a big help then rolling a league in the same center all season. It’s because adjusting in another league that doesn’t travel, adjustments will still need to be done, and adjusting more in the T.M. will give you a bigger comfort level. Adjusting is another part of life, as well as waiting for the results. If results aren’t going well, you may need to coach. Getting help is sometimes your best decision in sports and life.
The profit factor and the relation to risk, is one reason to compete. What you risk shouldn’t include your mortgage payment. The league can be profitable if your team get into the Roll-Offs. Additional revenue can come from brackets, strike pots or in the best sweeper in Tucson. I won $866 spending just $100 this past season. A sweeper with a $3400 prize fund can make your entire season. We’ve had 10 bowlers win over $400 in the three sweepers that I was sec./ tres. Eight teams the past two seasons broke even or made money due to Vantage Bowling Centers and Miller Lite Beer being co-sponsors. Vantage Bowling Centers is the best league sponsor in town. In the 98-99 season, bowlers were GUARANTEED 45% of their weekly fees. This makes this league the best-guaranteed league in Tucson. Former and current members of the Masters have set records and won numerous titles such as the T.B.A. Masters Tournament and Championships in the City Tournament. Eric Hew while bowling in the Tucson Bowl Masters League shot the state record in another league with an 873 at Lucky Strike in 1993. In the 97-98 season. Al Davis threw the city high set with an 835 he threw in the Traveling Masters. Also that season, Donna Hicks rolled the highest set in the state with a 780 in a league at Lucky Strike. The 98-99 season saw Colleen Grist throw a 792 in an A.B.C. sanctioned league, which would have been the state record for the season if sanctioned by W.I.B.C. The first three seasons of the Traveling Masters, a member of the league recorded the highest book average for each season. One third of all the regular members have shot an 800 series and or a 300 game. Partly due to the work making the T.M. a better league, it has added eight teams in just two seasons since I was elected sec./ tres. The T.M. offered opportunities, learning, team work, financial stability, a lottery (known as Tucson’s best sweeper), incentives and you guessed it, some great competition. Living a good life is about making decisions. And now you have a decision to make. If you can bowl on Monday nights, what league do you want to be a part of? This is the, ask a stupid question, question. I knew what your answer was going to be.
Afterthoughts: This is a tribute to all who bowled the Traveling Masters while I was secretary for over nine seasons. You helped make the T.M. better, because it’s the league you had to experience because of what it offered. There may have been a time when you didn’t agree with some of the decisions of the board of directors, but you didn’t let their decision interrupt you from hopefully having fun bowling or enjoying life. In life as well as sports, some say all good things must come to an end. It was just too bad that the T.M. came to an end sooner than expected.
I also have a short history of the T.M. and an article for promoting leagues. I also have an article on Ken Hosp, a Hall of Fame member who did some super bowling in the T.M. and had an incredible evening. For other articles, check out my website's , site map. Any questions or comments, please Contact Alan.
There was once a time in Tucson where bowling in a league made the week go by faster because of the competition and all the promotions offering more ways to cash than any other league. The added events and the greatest sweeper for any league made the league unique. You've read about it in the best league article, seen some of the stats, read about the greatest league in the history article, saw the top 10 list on this page and why bowling in the Traveling Masters gave life to many bowlers.
This was on the original website 20 years ago with animated gifs. This website publishing software doesn't support animation and some of the original sketches and photos are different. I will try to color some of the sketches at a later date. I hope you enjoy what is done and if you want to add your sketches, please Contact Alan.