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Bowling Insider: Tinley Park’s Villari throws back-to-back 300 games

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Updated: December 29, 2013 9:55PM

Brian Villari will probably talk to himself more often before he leaves for the bowling center.

The 40-year-old Tinley Park resident had missed the previous two weeks on his Friday Night Classic League at Tinley Park Bowl due to a vacation and a holiday event.

He gave quite a challenge to himself in preparation for his return on Friday, Dec. 13th.

“I had been bowling fairly well most of the season and the week before I left for vacation I just missed shooting a 300,” Villari said. “Coming back, I remember (that night) telling myself, ‘You know what. Go out there and do something spectacular. Go there and shoot a 900.’ ”

His first 300 raised some eyebrows among fellow bowlers. The second 300 brought the lanes to a standstill.

Villari, who went into the night with a 222 average, was in a perfect groove.

“I remember at one point in my career getting up there (with a perfect game on the line) and all of a sudden the legs felt like jello,” he said “But this time I didn’t have that feeling at all.

“I was relaxed, joking around with people, I didn’t have any nerves. I was so relaxed I could just put the ball where I needed to put it, and they all fell.”

By the third frame of the third game, Villari was talking to himself again. Or at least thinking.

“After I started that third game with two strikes I was like, ‘I am willing myself to do it.’”

On the next ball Villari’s I.Q. Tour Pearl crashed the pocket and left a ringing 10 pin.

“Karma,” he said, laughing.

Villari finished the third game with a 243, and the night with an 843 series, the highest in a career in which he has posted 13 perfect games and five 800 series.

“It was a nice thing for all of the years I’ve been bowling to do something that most people don’t have an opportunity to do,” he said.

Villari, the owner/manager of American Dance Centers in Orland Park and Homewood, has been bowling competitively since the age of 16.

His grandparents, Stan and Edith Sims, for many years owned Richton Lanes, which was destroyed in a fire in 1991.

“The American Dance Center (which his parents owned) was in the same building for the first 20 years,” Villari said. “I used to go with my parents to the dance student, but I would go bowling.”

With boys bowling not yet an IHSA sport, Villari gave up his amateur athletic eligibility while a student at Marian Catholic to join a men’s league at age 15.

“I did grow up playing baseball and basketball, and I loved high school sports, but being at the (center) every day I made the decision to focus on bowling,” he said.

Villari threw his first 300 game on Dec. 11, 1998 at Glenwood Bowl. During his career he has gone to the 12th strike 14 times.

Only once has he failed to convert.

“That one time I didn’t… I was leaving late 10 pins that night. The 10 pin fell late on the first ball in the 10th and then on the next one it fell late.

“I said in my mind, ‘Hey, you’d better get a couple more revs on this ball and make sure you blow out the 10 pin.’ I got a little too much on it and it went right through the middle pins and took the four pins out of the middle.”

Tough break.

“I actually think it’s kind of neat,” Villari said with a chuckle. “How many guys can say they have a 294 game?”

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