Mentors guided Hall of Famers

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Todd Mishler | October 26, 2016

Besides innate talent and abilities, most successful athletes possess a passion for their respective sport. Or at least they develop these attributes early along their competitive journeys.

Taking their game of choice to another level also involves many intangibles, such as hard work and fortitude.

However, a willingness to learn and listen to new ideas also is important. And for those lucky enough, these lessons come from a mentor, somebody with experience who pushes them through good and bad times while always being on their side.

Jack Horgan and Sandy Hughes took advantage of such tutelage. And that's why both of them will be inducted into the Wal-Roc Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Horgan has been selected for his superior bowling performance, while Hughes was chosen because of her meritorious service. Activities are at the Monte Carlo Room on Wisconsin Street in Elkhorn. Cocktails are set for 6 p.m., the dinner at 7 p.m. and the program afterward. Tickets are $25 and available at member bowling centers.

Horgan's litany of accomplishments includes participating in 24 association tournaments, winning Division 1 scratch singles and all-events titles and accumulating 11 career scratch 300 games and five scratch 800 series.

It's easy to discern where his motivation came from: Horgan was the youngest of four brothers, competing in basketball and football but making his mark in baseball, the latter earning him interest from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“With four athletic boys, that always was one of my driving forces,” Horgan said. “It took a lot of years of competing to try and get a compliment.”

However, he has received plenty of them for his exploits with a bowling ball. But that success came much later in life.

“My mom (Dixie) was a bowler and we got involved in youth leagues when I was 15, 16,” he said, crediting Ron Wheeler, who owned Wheeler Lanes in Delavan, as his biggest influence. “He was the best bowler I've ever been around. He always was teaching us. It was pretty simple, mainly the fundamentals and repetition, the boards and angles. It was all the little things that novice bowlers didn't understand.”

Horgan learned well enough that, even though he didn't take up the game seriously until about age 30, he has continually improved.

He has competed in more than 20 USBC national tournaments and was a member of a team that won the first Wal-Roc Proprietors tournament.

Among the many highlights was his first 300 game, which occurred at age 35 in 1991, one of seven he's compiled at Delavan Lanes, which he has owned the past 10 years with his wife, LaVonne, after a 28-year career at TrueValue.

“That first 300 game always will be special,” said Horgan, who's hoping to return to action soon after undergoing right hip replacement surgery in June. “It was in lanes 15 and 16, so there wasn't that big of a crowd. The first nine strikes weren't too bad, but then somebody, probably LaVonne, let some people know what was going on and then everybody was watching, so the nerves kicked in pretty good.”

But he conquered any fears and finished off his perfect game. He also has recorded two each at alleys in Clinton and Beloit, while one of his 800 series took place in Delavan. Two others were at state tournaments in Stevens Point and Waukesha in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

“I've always been a driven person, so it was constantly trying to take things to the next step,” said Horgan, whose uncle, Dick Martin, 84, also was a mentor, at least when he wasn't on a golf course. “Hopefully I've got a few good years left.”

And now Horgan, whose average has hovered in the 220s for about 10 years, is in the Hall of Fame.

“Rhonda (Sundown) told me about it,” Horgan said. “It's pretty humbling to be acknowledged for what you do. I'm pretty excited about it.”

That goes for Hughes, too, who bowled in leagues for 49 consecutive years through 2014, being introduced to the sport as a pinsetter for a nickel a line at age 12.

“They called my daughter, Charlene, who told me,” Hughes said of her induction. “It kinda floored me … I said, 'Oh dear, what am I gonna do now?'

“But it's such an honor,” added Hughes, whose home lane was Walworth. “I was maybe 4 or 5 years old when I first rolled one of those old 15- or 16-pound balls down the lane. But my mom (Jeannette) and Aunt Lois (Warfield), who really was my inspiration, I mean, they started the women's league in 1941 and built it. And Pat Paulsen, Dorothy Lagg and Wendy Church. To think about it, they were all great women.”

However, despite an average that hovered between 150 and 160, she recorded seven or eight 600 series. And she did as much or more off the lanes, and that's why she has received such lofty recognition.

Hughes was the association's director for 19 years and the organization's president for 13 years and vice president for seven. She also served as manager/secretary for two years.

Her accolades also include performing as the association's tournament manager for five years and the lanes certification inspector for seven years. Hughes also has attended numerous USBC national conventions.

“I put together lists for the prize committee and have helped with scheduling,” Hughes said, downplaying her numerous contributions. “I learned everything … about focus, the rules, courtesy, everything … from Aunt Lois and her friends. I was just having fun, a lot of fun.”

And now she's in the Hall of Fame.




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