With the stoppage of the World Team Challenge tournaments, team bowling tournaments have basically become extinct. Now I am not talking about the USBC Nationals, but there are very few scratch, team bowling tournaments now a days. Team Challenge was great and I always bowled them when they were in my area. What is better than a 5 man scratch tournament, on brutal lane patters, with a ton of brackets? Team Challenge even allowed PBA members to compete, I believe you could have 2 members per team. Back in the day, they used to televise the finals in baker format. When I say back in the day, I mean the early to mid 90s where you saw guys like Chris Barnes with the mullet, amateur legend Mike Neuman, Mika, Pat Healey, Rudy Revs, Mike Lichstein, etc… The best of the best bowled Team Challenge. Now when I would bowl this tournament, I always tried to build my team with 1 lefty because, duh, you ALWAYS need a lefty on your team. And then have 3 other guys that knew how to bowl, knew equipment, knew how to make moves, and most importantly how to make a spare and get wood on all splits. I always felt that if you left a split that was basically impossible, get all the wood you can get and NEVER lose count.

So I know the ABC always had rules about having 2 PBA members a team to make it fair so there was never a stacked “Dream Team” entered in the field. But what if we could just imagine and dream of what a dream team would be? Now I am going to tell you my dream team of 5. And I am including myself, so I am giving you 4 other bowlers that I would want to be on my team. And this is in order as they would be on the lanes.

Lead Off- Pete Weber- How can I ever put a team together and not have Weber on it? I am sure you all know that I think Weber is the greatest to ever throw a bowling ball, and he is. But he is a spark plug. I want Pete to lead off a game, start off with a strike, get the team fired up, give us something to build on. In baker play, the leadoff bowler bowls the 1st and 6th frame, let’s have Pete come up in the 6th frame on a double, let him throw a hit and explode, talk about getting the guys on the bench fired up? I couldn’t think of anyone else to be my leadoff bowler. Just in speaking with him in passing thru the years, he seems like the perfect teammate.

2nd- Mike Valanzano(Me)- Again this is my dream team, so I have to be included in it. I am in no way in the level of any of the 4 men I am going to mention, but I think I deserve the 2 hole. I am a great team player, and know my equipment. I think I sometimes make adjustments for my teammates better than I make them for my own game. Bowling Team Challenge, you have to know how to grind and stay clean, 2 things that I pride myself in. Following Weber on this team, I would never want to grab one and miss and mess up a run. If I did that, I am sure that Pete would want to beat my you know what….

3rd- Mike Neuman- If you read my article on the Top 10 Amateurs Never to get a PBA Card, you would see that Neuman was my #1 pick. Neuman had a trick on every lane patter he bowled on. Man this guy had game. Besides being full of energy, Mike could hook it on anything. Team Challenge was always known for being very, VERY tight to start, never re-oiled for the night block, so you had to have the trick to hook it on ice in the morning, then be able to loft the caps at night. He had every shot in his bag. I remember he made the Grand Championship show in 1997 at Showboat in Vegas. The entire field was playing slow up 15 with sandblasted equipment. Neuman was swinging the lane with a shined up Red Pulse at around 25. Give me him in the 3 hole on this team and let’s play!!

4th- Chris Barnes- Now Barnes owned these World Team Challenges when he was a member of Team USA. You always saw him on teams with Steve Kloempken, Robert Smith, Pat Healey just to name a few. Barnes was never a power player, but back in the day he did have a little more paw in his game. Now I know Barnes hasn’t had the best luck on TV thru the years, but come on, can anyone name me a better shot maker in the world than Chris Barnes? I don’t care what pattern is on the lanes, you can bowl on dust and put a piece of a mountain in his hands, and Barnes will find a way to get it to the 1-3 and strike. With his background of bowling in college and all his Team USA experience, he’s a no brainer to be a part of my dream team. Chris would be the perfect player to set up the foundation frame leading up to the anchor…. Who would my anchor bowler be? Remember I said I’d have to have a lefty……

5th- Mike Aulby- Hands down the BEST lefty I have EVER seen bowl, PERIOD. And the best pressure bowler I think ever to throw a ball. Mike can win with anything in his hands, plastic, urethane, resin, rubber, you name it, he could make it work. Mike also is one of the few lefties that could be able to move in to the 4th or 5th arrow and circle the lane when he needed to. His cool manner on the lanes would be the perfect fit to my team. Me personally would prefer to have a “Mr. Cool” bowling anchor and not have the pressure mess him up. How about Aulby getting up to double to win the T of C and also win the Tripple Crown, can you think of 2 bigger shots than that? He did it and didn’t shake at all. To him pressure is nothing, needing a hit to win a game, or win a tournament is like him getting up and throwing a shot in the beginning of a game. Give me Aubly with the tournament on the line, and I guarantee you that we will be called champions after his 10th frame.

There you have it. My dream team…. Weber, Me, Neuman, Barnes, Aulby. What is your Dream Team?

Mike Valanzano, 29 from NJ. Bowled for Morehead State University and has competed and had success at all levels of this game, he is the holder of 21 300 games, 10 800 series, with a  high of 856 (with an open frame).   Mike is married to his wonderful wife Lynda and have a baby girl, Daniella.  Some of Mike’s interests, he’s a HUGE New York Mets fan, he loves poker, traveling, and fine dining.  He is also a big advocate of zumba classes.  Mike has one of the largest video collections of old bowling shows anywhere.  He has every amateur bowling show ever aired and has a wide collection of numerous PBA, Sr PBA, LPBT shows from the 1950’s thru today.