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Bowling’s biggest attraction: the love of the game

Geoff Gast has embraced the game of bowling.
Geoff Gast has embraced the game of bowling.
Fred Eisenhammer

This is one of my favorite stories and ran originally on Sept. 22, 2012.

What makes bowling so special?

It’s a question worth pondering considering that bowlers are pouring into Los Angeles County bowling centers night after night.

I’ve talked to league bowlers every week and one thing is clear: They love the game – for many reasons.

At the top of the list is the fact that bowling is flat-out fun. Where else can a non-professional step up his or her game on a particular week and perform in a competitive setting like a Hall of Famer?

In bowling, it’s all so possible. Sometimes, the improvement is just luck – all the pins falling down like magic no matter how the ball is delivered and where the ball hits the pins.

Sometimes, the improvement is the result of a renewed focus on the bowler’s part.

And sometimes it’s a bowler just putting into practice all those tips and suggestions that they’ve collected from others.

Consider Geoff Gast of Tarzana.

One thing you can be sure about: He has a love for the game.

He reports his scores on his Facebook site week after week and sets lofty goals for motivation. And darn if he doesn’t go out and keep improving. And after bowling above his average, he then aims to improve even more the following week.

“I love the game and enjoy it very much,” Gast said. “When I don’t bowl well, I sulk. I take this sport very seriously.”

Gast (shown in photo) actually has a lot of fun with it. He jokes how he was “the man” for his team this week when he performed so much better than his average and served to carry his team to victory.

“It was like I was being Shaq and Kobe and leading the way,” Gast said. “I was being the Big Fella and the big man and bringing home the win.”

Gast isn’t alone in his love for the game.

How about Carol Tucker of Van Nuys, the always-effervescent pixyish bowler who recently took up the game and now bowls in three leagues?

An avid distance runner, Tucker had considered giving up one of her leagues so all her activity doesn’t create a physical toll. But she said she couldn’t bear to do that and leave some friends behind.

No one loves the game more than Carol Tucker.

Then there’s Theo Sojourn of Santa Clarita Valley, who turned into a local bowling celebrity after he suffered two broken bones in his right forearm in a snowboarding accident.

For virtually every other bowler, that mishap would have resulted in at least three months of being sidelined from the lanes.

For Sojourn, that was not an option.

Sojourn, not wanting to let his teammates down or to give up the game for even a week, returned to Brunswick Matador Bowl the following week.

As a newly created left-handed bowler.

And then he goes on to smoke an amazing 240 game while bowling left-handed – two pins better than his best as a right-hander – a mere six weeks after his injury.

This was more than a remarkable act of selflessness on the part of Sojourn. This was his way of showing that he loved the game – being around all the different personalities and taking part in the league competition and socializing with all those around him.

When Sojourn went back to bowling right-handed after his forearm healed, he summed up his three months as a lefty this way:

“I had fun and it was cool.”

That’s no shock to bowlers, who find the game fun and cool even when they don’t bowl with their opposite hand.

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