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Extra Frame: ‘Great ride’ to Hall for Claude Jackson

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Updated: January 12, 2014 6:42AM



When Highland native Claude Jackson first started bowling in his teens at Plaza Lanes, he was sent there by his mother so that he could take out his teenage frustrations on the pins.

Thankfully for Jackson, his frustrations didn’t last long. Little did he know that at age 18, he would spend the next 45 years as a league bowler while eventually finding his niche on the administrative side within the Greater Calumet Area Bowling Association.

In Jackson’s career, he served as a board member, established a youth scholarship program, joined Bob Quayle in establishing the “bowling in school” program and also coached at Highland High School for 14 years.

All those accomplishments were noteworthy enough for Jackson to be voted in to the GCABA Hall of Fame for meritorious service. He was officially inducted at Sunday’s Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet at Dynasty Banquets in Hammond.

“I was surprised, with deep appreciation,” Jackson said. “I put my brain into action to think about what meritorious service was, and I thought about everything I’ve been involved in with the Greater Calumet Area Bowling Association. I came to realize that there were a lot of things that I touched.”

To go with the years of coaching, Jackson became a bronze certified coach in 1995 and sliver certified in 1997 under the teaching of Fred Borden. Yet, he admits the certification doesn’t always mean an easy ride in communing the simple truths of the sport.

“When you’re young like that, you think that bowing is only hooking the ball,” he said. “And it’s not that; it’s hitting the pocket and carrying the pins. To be able to instill that into a young man or lady is a challenge.

“But I’ve been privileged to coach kids like Chris Cundiff, Aaron Smith and many other who you’ll be hearing from in the future.”

Though Jackson was one of many to bowl a 300 game during a record-breaking night at Plaza Lanes back in the 1980s, he said his greatest bowling accomplishment was winning the UAW Region 4 doubles with his father, James Claude Jackson, in 1976.

Both father and son worked at the Chicago Heights Ford stamping plant, with the younger Jackson being hired 10 years to the day after his dad. He retired from Ford with 39 years seniority. Jackson fondly remembers bowling for years on a team with his dad in the Ford League at Plaza.

“I advanced from a 130 bowler to the day when my dad told me, ‘Boy; this year you’re bowling anchor.’ That was a proud moment,” he said.

This year, Jackson faced a battle with cancer — and is now cancer free after having his esophagus removed in August.

“I used to bowl seven leagues a week, but I’m going to lessen my load,” Jackson said. “I’m a league secretary of the Ford Night Owls, and I still love the sport and the youth of the sport. It’s been a great ride.”



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