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Bowler Dayve Spencer rolling with the punches

Dayve Spencer is back on track on the bowling lanes.
Dayve Spencer is back on track on the bowling lanes.
Fred Eisenhammer

This is one of my favorite stories and originally ran July 25, 2012. It is being re-run with a postscript.

The 10th frame of her third and final game pretty much summed up the night for Dayve Spencer during Tuesday’s league action at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills.

The right-handed Spencer rolled a seemingly perfect shot that popped into the pocket and rattled the pins . . . and left a 7 pin wiggling and wiggling and wiggling . . . and it just would not fall.

Then on her spare ball, Spencer threw it just right of the pin, giving her an open and leaving her with a score of 104, following games of 141 and 94. Her series average of 113 was 24 pins below her average and a significant drop from a month ago when she electrified the bowling house with a sparkling 197 game.

“[It] was not a good night. It was my worst night in decades,” she said, laughing.

Spencer is fighting her way back since she fell ill in 2008 and went a year and a half before her condition was diagnosed as Valley fever. The disease is caused by a fungus that gets into one’s body through one’s lungs. It’s an illness that can feel like a cold or the flu or worse for the sufferer.

Spencer started a painting contracting business more than five years ago and has been involved in construction. So somehow it appears she got infected by the fungus that grows in the soil.

Spencer said there were many “misdiagnoses,” and doctors ultimately removed 2 ½ of the five lobes in her lung as part of the process to determine her illness.

“I’ve been up and down,” said Spencer about her current condition. “It kind of annoys you because I wish I could go back to doing what I did before. But life is good.”

She cited one of the casualties of her illness: She’s had to “cut down on her drum playing. But I’ve worked around it. I’m an engineering major so I’m pretty good at problem solving.”

Spencer, 47, added that her getting sick was a shock considering her medical history. “I had never been sick before,” she said. “I have all of my wisdom teeth, my appendix. I’ve never had a filling. It’s a whole new world.”

Spencer has been bowling in league play since 2006 – and bowls in two leagues each week. She has bowled as high as a 200 game at now-defunct Rocket Bowl in Chatsworth. And she has made it a goal of bowling a 500 series at some point in the future. Her high is in the 490s.

“The 490 was just close enough to hurt my feelings,” Spencer joked. “But I seem to be improving, although you can’t see it by last night.”

As for goals, she said she’d love to bowl a 300, but “realistically, I’d like to bowl a 500 series. I’m just happy I can bowl.”

An interesting feature about Spencer is her first name: Dayve. Her real name is Michele, but she’s become known to all her bowling friends as Dayve, which is a combination of her grandfather’s name, David, and her middle name, Davida.

For her business, she goes by Michele. “But as far as bowling is concerned, I don’t think anyone knows me by anything but Dayve. When people hear it, they think they misheard you.

“Personally, I like it. I think it’s funny. I think almost everything is funny.”

As far as bowling for one night not up to her standards:

“That’s bowling for you,” she said with a laugh.

Postscript: Spencer, who bowls in leagues at Woodlake Lanes and Canoga Park Bowl, says now: “I’m getting back in my game slowly but surely. I didn’t think it would take this long, but it has.” This season Spencer showed that she’s back on track by blistering a 222 game and a 492 series.

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