Tonawanda News — When the Professional Bowlers Association decided to unveil a new team format that's scheduled to begin in January of next year, North Tonawanda native John Szczerbinski wasn't sure he had a chance to be drafted. The second-year professional bowler certainly didn't expect to be selected by one of the sport's most popular names, Pete Weber.
But that's exactly what happened.
"I was bowling a regional tournament when they did the draft and my friends were sending me the picks of who was getting taken," Szczerbinski said. "I get a text message from Tommy Jones who was sitting next to Pete Weber during the draft. He said they were going to pick me in the fourth round.
"My heart was pumping and racing and I actually threw the last five strikes to finish out a 280 game to lead the regional that weekend," he continued. "I'm still in shock of getting picked, being a younger tour guy. It's an unfathomable feeling and I'm ready to take the experience by the horns and show them I'm meant to be out there."
The PBA has struggled in recent years as the sport tries to maintain sponsorships and seek out new relationships that will help generate more interest from fans and potential sponsors. The inaugural PBA team format is a venture by the league to appeal more to sponsors, which Szczerbinski said will provide more value to potential partners.
The past two seasons have tested Szczerbinski at every turn and he's looking to take advantage of this sudden and unexpected opportunity. Coming out of college at Wichita State, he said he lacked the confidence to really make a mark on the tour, despite competing for Team USA in international competition.
He said the chance to team up with legends like Pete Weber and Tommy Jones might be exactly the "jump start" he's been looking for.