Family drives Bel Air's Criss


The 2005-06 season was the first year that Bel Air's Tim Criss was on the Professional Bowlers Association tour without his family.

His daughter, Amanda, now 6, had started kindergarten and his wife, Cherie, was at home most of the time - something Criss considers when contemplating how long he'll remain on the tour.

"We waited a long time to have a family because of my profession," Criss, 39, said, admitting that he is unsure how many more years he will bowl professionally.

Criss has bowled since he was 5 and has been on the PBA tour for 13 years. It was his daughter's birth that changed his outlook on bowling.

"Before it was: 'This is fun to do, I love doing it and I'm making some money,'" he said. "Now I look at her and I know I need to make money - I need to bowl well - for her future. It made bowling a little more serious for me."

This weekend, Criss will participate in the PBA East Region Forest Hill Lanes Open. He helped the tournament get off the ground three years ago and is the defending champion.

Being part of the PBA tour can be stressful, Criss said, noting that it requires more than just working on approach and arm swing in 200 to 250 practice games a week.

Members make their own travel arrangements, and because they don't have large endorsement deals, most bowlers' livelihoods depend on their winnings each week.

When he joined the national tour in 1993, Criss already had a few friends on the tour, bowlers Tommy Delutz Jr. of Flushing, N.Y., and Danny Wiseman, who grew up in Dundalk.

"You take care of your own," Delutz said. "Timmy was from my region and he didn't know anybody back then, so I introduced him to other guys on tour and ball and equipment representatives."

The most difficult part of his career, Criss said, was being able to overcome slumps in his performance. His play regressed for a few years, and in 1996 he thought about quitting.

Criss didn't quit, however, and rebounded to win four standard titles through 1997-98 and a major title in 1999. He holds the fourth-highest average in the East Region this season, bowling a 217.12 over 42 games.

"I turned my career around and put three solid years together. Winning the major was just the icing," he said of the PBA National Championship he won in Toledo, Ohio. "I had a pretty decent resume as far as the PBA goes and no matter what happens after that I have that major title."

Along with his five titles, Criss has earned $677,936 and was named the Steve Nagy PBA Sportsmanship Award winner twice.

"He's been a consistent performer over the years," Wiseman said of Criss. "He's not one for the outspokenness or the showiness to grab the attention of the fans, he's just himself."

At a glance

What: PBA East Region Forest Hill Lanes Open

When: Today (Pro-Ams 4, 6 and 9 p.m.), Tomorrow (8 a.m. -- 2:30 p.m.) and Sunday (match play begins at 8:30 a.m.)

Where: Forest Hill Lanes, 1 Maurice Drive

The field: More than 165 bowlers make this year's tournament the largest in its three-year history. Two squads will each play an eight-game qualifying round tomorrow and the top 16 bowlers will advance to the finals Sunday. Players include Maryland natives Tim Criss and Danny Wiseman along with Tommy Delutz Jr., Parker Bohn III, Ryan Shafer and Patrick Allen.

Prize money: Prize fund - $40,000; first place - $5,000.

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