Jordan hopes for bowling jackpot

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

ALBANY -- Wayne Jordan's key to bowling success is simple -- keeping it fun.

"Stay within the moment and enjoy yourself, this is why I do the sport," he said. "I enjoy it. When it comes down to one shot, this is it. I just want to relax and take one good shot at a time."

Jordan has quite a shot, one that could win him $50,000 Friday and Saturday when he competes in the AMF In-League Tournament at Las Vegas' Orleans Hotel & Casino. A Lee County High School graduate who took up bowling when he was 17, the 53-year-old Jordan qualified for the event by winning locally at Albany's AMF Bowl-A-Rama and the district title for his division (high-average -- 200 and above) two weeks ago in Mobile, Ala.

In Vegas, Jordan will be among 27 contestants in that division as part of amateur bowling's richest competition.

Bowling high scores is nothing new to Jordan, who has scored three sanctioned perfect games of 300.

Early in his career, however, Jordan worked part-time for both the UPS and a bowling alley before moving to a 35-year full-time job with the former. Two years ago, however, Jordan retired from the UPS and now works at Bowl-A-Rama as its resident pro. Certified to both drill holes in balls and coach, Jordan spends time tailoring bowling balls and teaching students as young as 35 and as old as the 70s.

"I think bowling is an interesting sport because it's not just something you can master," Jordan said. "There are too many variables. Indeed, it's a sport you CANNOT master."

If Jordan can be on top of his game long enough in Vegas, he will bowl more than 10 games that includes head-to-head semifinal and final rounds similar to what ESPN televises while covering the PBA Tour on Sunday afternoons.

"The bowlers on TV are simply amazing," Jordan said. "I don't think people really understand how hard they work and how talented they are. They are top athletes, just like in any other sport."

If Jordan reaches the final round, he will prepare like he did entering the beer frame (final three frames) while scoring his 300s.

"You can't stop your heart from wanting to pound through your chest," Jordan said. "But you just breathe and relax and make your shot. Your body knows what to do. If you shut your mind off and let your body do what it's supposed to do, that usually goes pretty well."

AMF Bowl-A-Rama general manager Paul Bell feels Jordan can definitely contend in Vegas.

"This is a great opportunity for Wayne and for our center with him representing it," Bell said. "I've known him for 30 years and he has a great approach to bowling. He has a great intensity level on the lanes and he has a great determination to the game."

Jordan then added: "Me and my wife (Sheila) will treat it as vacation. We will be looking forward to it."