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Bowling: Jeff Schipper caps off career with hall of fame induction

Jeff Schipper will be inducted inLakeShore Bowling AssociatiHall Fame next month. | Steve T. Gorches~Post-Tribune

Jeff Schipper will be inducted into the LakeShore Bowling Association Hall of Fame next month. | Steve T. Gorches~Post-Tribune

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Updated: November 18, 2012 7:06AM



When Jeff Schipper walked into Hobart Lanes as a sub in a Sunday night league in 1984, it had been almost 13 years since he had picked up a bowling ball.

Since that night when he joined his sister in that league, much has happened in the life of the Gary native: He’s bowled a wave of award scores, been mentored by a pair of local legends, coached a high school team to a state championship, mentored a stepson who is one of the best bowlers in the region, and now he can call himself a hall of famer.

Schipper will be formally inducted into LakeShore Bowling Association Hall of Fame on Nov. 11 at Innsbrook Country Club.

“It’s a great honor to even be put on the ballot,” said Schipper, who has 14 perfect games and three 800s since 1999. “This is probably the biggest accomplishment in my bowling career.”

Schipper’s first experience in bowling was at age five, when his parents took him to the old Merri-Bowl on Broadway. The family finances, due to his parents’ divorce, halted his participation at age 12. He averaged a 157 in his first year back and found himself joining a league at Ray’s Lanes in Lake Station two years later after an invitation from hall of famer Mark Milsap — that team, which also included hall of famer Don Draia, won the league four straight years.

“I was so fortunate to have bowled with Mark because he’s probably the best shot-maker in bowling, and he has an Eagle (USBC title) in his trophy case,” he said. “He helped my robotic approach first, and then he helped how to play the lanes with the right bowling balls.”

Then Schipper’s game was impacted by another hall of famer, Jim Fowble, at Cressmoor Lanes in Hobart.

“I’d be hard pressed to tell you anybody who knows more about the game of bowling than Jim,” he said. “He helped me with my follow through and I also learned a lot angles as it applied to the inside part of the lane.”

It was during those years that Schipper married a woman who had an 11-month old son, Billy Robinson, who grew up to become one of the best bowlers in Northwest Indiana. Schipper taught Robinson the game and eventually coached him at Crown Point High School, where he, Tim Loudermilk and fellow teammates won the first Indiana high school bowling title in 2000.

“It was rewarding and a lot of fun,” Schipper said.

Eventually, around 2006, Schipper started to get back into the flow of his own game — especially when he met his present wife, who he happily said has a “calming influence” on his game. Now retired, Schipper gets to spend much more time bowling. Predictably, the award scores have followed.

“I took a lot of time teaching my kids how to bowl,” he said. “I thought that was more important. There’s a little piece of me in each award score they shoot. And when I’m having a bad day, my mom’s my inspiration. She’s had four types of cancers, surgeries on both legs, takes radiation — and she still bowls two leagues every week.”



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