News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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August 23, 2012

Terre Haute native among top youth darts throwers in world

TERRE HAUTE — Danny Lauby of Terre Haute truly believes he was born to play darts.

His father, longtime professional darts player Dan Lauby Sr., took him to his first tournament in Lexington, Ky., when he was 8.

“I always felt like I was supposed to play darts — just from watching him all the time,” Danny reflected last week. “It felt real natural. I just always did it. I hardly remember not doing it.”

“He grew up on a dart board,” Dan Sr. recalled. “I always had a good, professional dart board in the house because that’s where I would practice. He was young then and I was still competing at a world level.”

Five years later, young Lauby became serious about the sport that can be played by men and women of all shapes, ages and skill levels in a variety of venues.

“When I was 13 [in 2006], I started playing at a level where I could play darts with a lot of adults,” Danny explained. “That kind of allowed me, at least mentally, to hit the next gear to practice a lot more. I actually started succeeding in some matches against adults. It just kinda took off from there.”

In 2008, at 15 years of age, he went big time and took home the American Darts Organization (ADO) championship in the 18-and-under division.

Fast forward to Aug. 11, 2012 (less than two weeks ago): Danny Lauby, now 19, edged Anthony DeArmas Jr. of New York 4-3 in the final match to capture the title in the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) U.S. world youth qualifer at Stamford, Conn.

“This time, I wasn’t even the favorite [to win],” he told the Tribune-Star. “This [DeArmas] guy was the one everybody thought was going to win.

“He had a following. There were like 30 people rooting for him. The only person who came to watch me was my old man [Dan Sr.]. So anytime [DeArmas] hit anything good, there was like a roar of people. And I’d hit something and I’d just hear Dad in the background. It was almost comical, but I didn’t really let that bother me. It was cool, though, because toward the end of the match all these strangers started cheering for both of us. It was pretty cool.”

A December 2010 graduate of Terre Haute South High School and currently a student at Ivy Tech, Danny bested a field of 13 youth players (21 and under) to earn a position in the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship, which will take place in early 2013 somewhere in Europe. He will be the only U.S. representative among 64 competitors from around the world.

Danny admitted the recent Stamford tournament was the most significant he’s ever won — so far.

“I’d never played that well in competition,” the young left-hander assessed. “I see that kind of game when I’m by myself practicing sometimes, but there’s not the pressure of being in competition and playing for something when you’re by yourself.”

Getting to where he’s at now

Throwing darts for hours is something Danny Lauby has done countless times over the years to improve his performances in big-time tournaments.

“I practice a lot at home with my old man,” he pointed out. “I think another one of the big things is the travel Dad has allowed me to do, so I can go out and play against all these great players … getting used to what it feels like to play well in competition. It’s not hard to do it in the practice room because there’s no pressure. You don’t even have to try. You just do it. It comes naturally.”

Danny said hand-eye coordination helps — that’s partially why he plays the drums so well and instructs others how to do so in his job at the Conservatory of Music — but that isn’t the only attribute he possesses for darts.

Developing rhythm — like a basketball player who hits 80 percent or better on free throws — is what he likes to credit for his success.

“It’s like having a good basketball stroke or a good golf stroke,” he insisted. “I always had a natural stroke that made it real easy for me.”

Young Lauby, who specializes in the darts game known as 501 (where you start with 501 points on the board and race your opponent to zero while finishing with a double), said there are still situations that he finds difficult.

“Anything with an odd number … like a 127 or something like that, where you’ve got to hit different shots all around the board,” he mentioned. “Usually with an even number, you can stay on one number and check it out. But when you have an odd number, you’ve got to move around [on the board] and know the math.”

Danny Lauby learned the math of darts as a youngster because Dan Sr. (or “my old man” as he likes to call him) put a facsimile board under the real board with all the values of the doubles and triples that Danny needed to know to excel at 501.

Both agreed that Dan’s plan worked.

Still hoping to be a drummer in a successful band someday, Danny has ambitious goals in mind for darts as well.

“I hope to be in the world championship finals,” he acknowledged. “That would be kinda nice. That would be what you’d see if you find it on TV.”

And if it doesn’t happen in 2013, he plans to shoot for it again in 2014, then 2015, then 2016, … This could go on for a while because playing darts isn’t like being an NFL running back where your career is likely to end in your early 30s.

“You can play [darts] ‘til you can’t lift your arm anymore,” Danny Lauby emphasized. “I’ve seen a lot of older people who have been playing for 40 or 50 years.”

Like father, like son

It’s no wonder Danny Lauby enjoys playing darts so much. His father, now 52, has been known to spend 6-8 hours a day practicing on the board inside Terre Haute’s Imperial Lanes.

“I was ranked in the top 20 in the world in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” Dan Sr. said when asked about his background in the sport. “I competed on the world stage three consecutive years in the world pro in London. I competed in the world match play that’s held in Blackpool, England. I finished top 16 in one of those.

“I could have done better, but I was very young in the game. I didn’t pick up darts until I was 33 years old. I saw my first tournament when I was 35. I didn’t turn pro until 1996. At the end of ‘98, I was No. 1 in the U.S. and I was on the world stage — in way over my head.”

Dan Lauby Sr. didn’t want his son to be at such a disadvantage if he was going to follow in Dad’s footsteps, so Dan Sr. got Danny started young.

“I took him to his first tournament when he was 8 years old,” the proud papa noted. “He’s been playing ever since. He was 8 years old when he hit his first double to beat me. It was a double-8. I’ll never forget that.”

In recent years, Dan Sr. has focused on building Danny’s career while competing sparingly himself, although he’s still fared well in tournaments at Chicago, Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn.

But the elder Lauby believes big-time prize money and product endorsements may be in Danny’s future if he can win on the world stage of darts, so Danny is the Lauby to watch in the years to come.

“That’s what he’s working for,” Dan Sr. said. “This event that he just qualified for [in early 2013] is just such an event.”

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