NDA: Tell us a bit about yourself–where you grew up and live now…and your family. Besides work (and darts), any hobbies or interests?
JACK: First of all thank you so much for the opportunity. I am based out of Wausau, Wisconsin and have lived here for most of my life and love the area. My father was in in the United States Air Force when I was a kid so we bounced around a few times before I can really remember much, but our Wausau has always been home for me and my family.
My wife Sara and I have 2 kids, Austin who is 19 and Caitlinn who is 22. They are all moved out and doing their own things now so life is pretty quiet and funny for my wife and I as new empty nesters. We do have a very special granddaughter in our life, Amira, who spends a couple hours with us several times a week. I love spending time with her and learning from her, and hopefully she learns a few things from me. We have a blast together, we cause some “fun” trouble.
NDA: What do you do for work?
JACK: I work for Footlocker.com as a Support Services Manager. In a nutshell, I manage the teams that you would encounter if you contacted any of our companies via email, live chat, or even a letter. I have about 100 people working on my team spread out between Oshkosh and Wausau, Wisconsin.
NDA: How and when did you start playing darts?
JACK: I started playing darts a little earlier than perhaps we were supposed to. When we were about 18, my buddy’s father, Randy Bise Sr., played in a league and they were often needing subs. Randy Jr. and I quickly accepted and started becoming regulars fairly quickly. We loved it, the darts were fun but just hanging out with his dad and the team drinking sodas (yes for real) at the time was really fun and enjoyable. So that was 25 years ago (OMG I am old).
NDA: How often do you play now?
JACK: I play in a Sunday and Thursday league now so I am always playing at least 2 nights a week. We also have a great local dart tournament series run by the CWDA (Central Wisconsin Dart Association) so I love playing in many of their Friday and Saturday events as well.
NDA: Who is your dart league operator/coordinator and what’s the main value they bring to the table?
JACK: Our league coordinator is Teddy Poplawski who works with Midwest Amusements. What he brings to the table is hard to put to words and my relationship and appreciation of him continues to evolve. When I first met him I really looked up to him as a dart player. He was great and was willing to share his knowledge which isn’t how everyone is. He was a great mentor and really helped to build me up and many of my peers in the league. Now my appreciation is really more for the behind the scenes things he does. Running leagues, communicating with WAMO, and the NDA and coordinating fees and registrations is many times a labor of love, and a thankless job. He does that for us and he deserves more credit than he gets – so if you print this “Thank you Teddy, we love you buddy.”
NDA: When you’re not playing, do you get in much practice time? If so, what is your practice regime like? What specific skills do you work on?
JACK: I don’t practice enough that is for sure but I had gotten into the habit of practicing with one of my best friends Tom Tabaka every other Tuesday. Practice entailed some good music, good drinks, and many laughs in his basement on his old Galaxy board from the early 90’s. This may have been more about talking and being around each other then practicing but we did play darts and celebrated each other successes. I miss that since this Covid lock down started for sure.
NDA: What is the coolest thing you have gotten to experience as a dart player?
JACK: The coolest thing has to be taking 3rd place in Mixed Trips at NDA Vegas back in 2014, I believe. I would choose this over some other incredible times mainly because I had my wife on that team and that made it special (Steve Krolikowski) was our other member. Now, I did get 2nd place at team in Mixed Trips as well, but was with a different couple of friends. Still special, but nothing better than placing with my wife Sara!
NDA: What do you like most about darts?
JACK: What I like most about darts is it allows me to have something to look forward to every week and a chance to escape the everyday junk we all have. Our family had a rough experience about 6 years ago and darts was so important during that tough time. I was able to feel normal for a couple hours a week and enjoy my best friends and brothers playing a game and having fun. Eventually this opened the door to feeling normal again all the time. I don’t take that for granted.
NDA: What advice would (or do) you give to new/novice dart players?
JACK: The best advice I would give to a beginner would be to not worry about what the competition is doing. Do your best to throw your best darts and gain satisfaction from the small victories and notice your improvement. Have fun along the way, bring others with you. Winning is special and fun, but winning with the right people is even more important, get the right people around you.
NDA: If you could pick one person you’d like to play a game of darts with, who would it be and why?
JACK: If I could play a game of darts with any one person, it would be Brad Krukowski aka Big Stone. He and I partner up for his Toys for Tots tournament and always have a blast. He is 1000x better than me but we always have a great time and that means more than anything to me, and we raise a lot of money for kids in the process.
NDA: You’re a veteran of NDA’s Team Dart in Las Vegas. How many times have you competed in this event and how does it rate on the circult of dart events you play in?
JACK: I have played at NDA Darts 3 times and it is probably my favorite event. Our Wisconsin State Dart Tournament (WAMO) is very good as well and I like them both a lot. Going to NDA is interesting because if you shoot a full schedule it is a lot like going to work so you are going to be busy. That can be too much for some people, but I love that aspect. It feels special in Vegas, it feels like being a part of something big, due to the players coming from everywhere.
NDA: Unfortunately, we had to cancel this year’s Team Dart. Were you going out to Vegas this year?
JACK: I was not going to Team this year, as I usually go every other year. However, I had a number of friends who were going, and my heart goes out to them as I know how long I usually look forward to these events when I plan on going. The good news is, I am going for sure in 2021 so we will make up for lost time.
NDA: What have you been during to get through these challenging times? What is your typical day like?
JACK: During the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has been a challenge for sure. I am still reporting to work and that is challenging but I haven’t been around my friends and some of my family since this started and that is hard. I have really enjoyed watching a lot of movies with my wife and I just got a Granboard so I can start playing some actual people in darts including my friends who have them. It should be neat and something different. I will be repurposing my cabinet from my old Galaxy Board to take this so it is a fun project.
NDA: What is your favorite...
…Movie: The Hangover (I mean watch this and hang out with me at Team 2021)
…Music: Frank Sinatra, Buble, Dean Martin – I crank the juke box during league night 😊
...Food: I am Jack from Wisconsin you know it is Cheese
TV-Show: Modern Family
…Thing to do in Vegas besides darts: I love Vegas for the food scene, so many great choices and options and it doesn’t have to be expensive. I also love to sit at a place with outdoor seating and have tropical drinks and laugh with my friends.
NDA: Anything else to add?
JACK: My Team for Cricket and 01 last year shaved their heads bald for Team 2019. I just want to give credit to Randy Bise and Justin Lavelle some love for that as Brandon Ovre and myself are already bald. Hopefully we can share a picture of Team Sexy (see photo at top, left of our story!) Thank you for the opportunity to share!
Published April 14, 2020