A Milestone and a Memory

A Milestone and a Memory – 1998 Clabber Girl Terre Haute Open

Kim Adler

A couple of special circumstances made the i998 Clabber Girl Terre Haute Open one tournament that couldn’t be allowed to get away

BY THE TIME I arrived in Terre Haute, Ind., in the second week of August 1998 with my husband and manager Tommy, who travels with me on the PWBA tour, I was feeling much better than when we left Louisville three days earlier.

There, on August 5 in the Lady Ebonite Classic at the Executive Bowl, I lost 205-192 to Michelle Feldman in the title game after defeating Dede Davidson 247-222. Finishing second at Louisville was a big disappointment, especially after shooting 807 for four games, beating, in order, Carol Norman 233-216, Liz Johnson 177-173, Leanne Barrette 214-166, and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard 183-182 to win the Chattanooga Open on July 30.

From Louisville, Tommy and I drove to Vincennes University in southern Indiana, which has an excellent bowling program. I had met Gary Sparks, the coach, and Jeff Newkirk, the manager of the bowling center, previously, and they said to stop whenever I might be in the area. Gary and Jeff put down a couple of different lane conditions that I had described as my more difficult patterns, and I practiced on them. That made me comfortable going into the Clabber Girl Greater Terre Haute Open at the Terre Haute Bowling Center on August 9.

Before qualifying began, Tommy challenged me, asking me why I couldn’t lead a tournament from start to finish and win. I almost did it at Louisville, and I lost to Anne Marie Duggan as the top-seeded player in the Hammer Players Championship at Rockford, Ill., in 1995. I didn’t say anything to Tommy when he posed that question; I just went out and bowled.

My shot from the beginning was good, and I got off to a fast start–I never dropped below second all week, and I wound up as the leading qualifier. Carol Gianotti-Block, Michelle Mullen, Wendy Macpherson, and Marianne DiRupo rounded out the field for the TV finals.

Whenever I make a TV show, Tommy and I will talk that morning about what inspired me during qualifying. That week was the 10th anniversary of the death of my father: Gary Kahrman of East Longmeadow, Mass., who passed away from a heart attack on August 11, 1988. My father was 44, I was 20. He was the reason I got into bowling.

I thought about my father all week, and I did a lot of interviews in which I talked about how much I miss him. The fans picked up on that, and they were behind me. And if I won that tournament it would be my 10th career title, so 10-10–the 10th anniversary of my father’s death and a possible 10th title–was my inspiration heading into the finals on August 13.

Just before the TV lights went on, Tommy said: “This is your tournament. No one else deserves it any more than you do. Your dad is here in spirit, and everybody is behind you. Just go out and do it.”

That’s what I did, beating Carol Gianotti-Block 200-197 in the match I’ll never forget. As soon as the game ended, I gave Tommy a big hug. We both were crying, and so were many of the fans, because they knew the story behind the story–that this victory was dedicated to my father.

Tommy and I work as a team. He has a certain job, helping me stay motivated, and I have my job. I did watch some of the other matches, but I was more in the process of deciding intellectually how I was going to play the conditions, so I didn’t spend any time being nervous. The lane conditions were breaking down, but no more than normal.

I had my choice to finish first or last in the championship game, and I decided to allow Carol to bowl last. After a 4-7-9 leave in the 6th frame, which I didn’t convert, I was six pins behind. In the 7th I left the 1-2-4-10 washout, which I didn’t make. Now I’m down by 27 pins and wondering how I’m going to win this tournament. In the meantime, Carol was clean–no open frames–through the 9th. She spared in the 8th and 9th frames, while I struck in the 8th and 9th.

When I got up to bowl in the 10th frame, I was thinking about my dad. I struck on my first ball and struck again on my second delivery. That gave me a four-bagger (four straight strikes). On my fill ball in the 10th I got nine pins, for a final score of 200.

Carol had to get two strikes and a good count on her fill ball in the 10th frame to win the tournament. When she threw the ball well and struck on her first delivery, all I said to myself was: “I’ve done everything I can. It’s in her hands now.” Then Carol left the 2-5-8 combination on her second delivery and finished with 197. My feeling was: “It’s over. It’s happened. I’ve got it.” At that point I put my head in my hands for a few seconds and prayed.

I have the tape of that victory in my collection, and I’ve watched it–there are a lot of tears shed at the end of it. But I don’t spend a lot of time reveling in what I’ve done. Someday I’ll watch that tape with our children and grandchildren, and then it will be fun to reminisce.

I have another way of remembering our stay in Terre Haute that year. I write a lot of notes during each tour event in my journal, who I met and what Tommy and I saw. I’m a writer, and I learn a lot about myself through my writing. I also have a file box for newspaper clippings. I have a lot of positive material in my journal and file box from that week in August 1998.

After another enjoyable meeting with the media following the title match, Tommy and I had a late dinner with our two friends from Vincennes, Gary and Jeff. I’m now acting as an informal recruiter for Vincennes–Gary gave me brochures of the school, and whenever I hear a junior bowler ask about what college to attend, I’ll give him or her a Vincennes brochure.

That dinner was a great way to end a most memorable week for me, Tommy, and my father.

Living the Life She Loves

KIM ADLER IS one of the most versatile players on the PWBA tour. The 33-year-old righthander, who resides in Cocoa, Fla., with her husband and manager Tommy, does it all. She reads. She writes. She snowboards. She mountain-bikes. She climbs rocks. And–most important of all–she wins. Consistently.

Adler got off to an excellent start in the first year of the new millennium. She won the opening event in April at Las Cruces, N.M, for her 13th career title and followed that with an 18th-place finish in Mesa, Ariz.; a third-place showing in San Diego; and an 11th-place positioning with Tori Carter in the 2000 Track Doubles at Las Vegas. “I’m bowling very well,” she says.

So what does the 1991 Ebonite PWBA and BOWLING DIGEST Rookie of the Year hope to achieve in the years ahead?

“A goal is to win the WIBC Queens tournament,” says Adler. “That would complete the Triple Crown for me.” (She has two major titles, the 1996 Hammer Players Championship at Rockford, Ill., and the 1997 Sam’s Town Invitational at Las Vegas). “And I would like to go through a tournament making all my spares.”

Adler has won two titles each of the past five years on tour but has yet to be voted PWBA player of the year. Wouldn’t that be a No. 1 goal? No, says Kim, who lists compelling reasons for not making that an obsessive priority.

“A lot of things are in my control, but so many things are out of my control, and being PWBA player of the year is one of them,” says Adler. “If it does happen, fine. But if it doesn’t happen, that’s OK, too.

“I get to spend 24 hours a day with my husband Tommy, who travels with me on tour. That’s something most people don’t get the privilege of doing. I’m getting to do what I love to do–bowl professionally–and getting to travel with the person I love. How could you be disappointed if you didn’t win PWBA player of the year when you have so many other good things going on in your life?”

COPYRIGHT 2000 Century Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group