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Bowling: Lake Central’s ‘bowling family’ helps ease pain

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Updated: April 7, 2013 1:35PM



There’s no family like your bowling family. It sounds cliché, but it’s something that many people associated with the Lake Central High School girls bowling program have said the last couple days.

A little more than two weeks after the Indians finished second in the Indiana High School Bowling state finals on the same day the LC boys finished first, and just two days after older daughter, Allison, finished fifth in the All-State Tournament, Gayle Szostak Sellers died suddenly at her home.

Saying that life is precious and delicate was never more true than in this case.

For those of you who didn’t know Gayle, you missed out on knowing a wonderful person.

Gayle epitomizes the Billy Joel song “Only the Good Die Young” since she was one of the truly good parents of any region bowler — make that two kids as she had Allison and Jessica competing for the Indians.

“She was her daughters’ biggest fan when they were bowling and a surrogate mom to many girls on the team,” LC girls coach Stephanie Cooley said. “She would give you the shirt off her back or help you in any way she could.”

The “surrogate mom” thing isn’t window dressing or an exaggeration.

“She was the best person in the world — she was my pseudo-mom,” said LC junior bowler Jamie Zega. “She was always there for me with a hug or something witty. She was just someone everyone loved being around.

“I know if this had been any other mom on the team, she’d be right in there leading the mass comforting spree that has been going on (all day Monday). She was my role model and my bowling mom.”

Gayle’s death has touched those outside of Lake Central’s close-knit circle.

“As a mom I know the kind of love (Gayle) had for the girls and for (husband) Ron,” said Sara Ciesielski, wife of Stardust III manager, Shaun Ciesielski. “I have realized the bowling community is just a big family and this is hurting all of us.”

In the new world of Twitter and Facebook, it only took a few hours for high school bowlers all across the region to pass along their sympathy to the LC bowling family — from Portage to Hobart to Michigan City.

There’s no such thing as a timely death, and this particular one will be even harder this week since the WestLake Conference banquet will be on Friday. It was supposed to be a happy occasion, celebrating the achievements of the LC boys and girls teams, as well as Merrillville’s Carly Larson bringing home Northwest Indiana’s first singles state title. Instead, there will be a melancholy among the attendees.

It won’t be the same, and not just because the mom of Allison and Jessica died, but because every LC bowler’s surrogate mom died.

Post-Tribune tourneys: The annual P-T youth and adult invitational tournaments are about two months away. The 12th annual youth scholarship event will be Saturday, May 11, at Stardust Bowl II in Hobart (girls and boys in separate tourneys), while the adult events will be on May 25 and 26 at Stardust Bowl III in Dyer — women on Saturday and men on Sunday. More details to come, including the qualifier lists being posted at www.post-trib.com/sports starting next week. Entry fees have changed with all youth entrants costing $10, while the highest adult entry will be $15, based on qualification (women who roll 600 series or higher in league play, men who have rolled 780 or higher, 300 game or won local sport shot tournament).

Stardust III March no-tap: Stardust Bowl III has its March 9-pin No-Tap running through March 30 with multiple squad days and times. The cost for the handicap tourney is $25 for pre-paid entries, $30 for walk-ins, $20 for re-entry. First place has paid $1,000 each of the last eight years. For more details, including squad times, call 322-3666.



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