Persistence pays. Just ask Gaynell Jackson.
The San Fernando Valley resident turned to her “off” or left hand to bowl for the first time about nine years ago after injuring her right shoulder.
“The first time I threw the ball left-handed, I was on the far left side of the lane, on the No. 1 board,” Jackson recalled, “and it went straight across the lane into the gutter by the 10 pin.”
Jackson, a San Fernando Valley resident, wasn’t particularly familiar with gutter balls. As a righty, Jackson was a solid league bowler with a sizzling high of 277. Her top average was 189 one year.
But bowling five times a week in addition to bowling in some tournaments put too much pressure on her shoulder.
So she turned to her left hand and after her initial gutter ball, Jackson finished her first game as a left-hander with a 77.
Jackson improved to a 97 before her night ended. Now, almost a decade later, Jackson is bowling once a week at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills left-handed with a more-than-respectable average of 141. She’s even bowled an impressive 200 left-handed and this season has blistered a 192.
Jackson had tried going back to her more natural side when she thought her right shoulder had healed. But the pain resumed not only in her shoulder but in her back.
“I’m having the same amount of fun,” Jackson said. “I can’t imagine giving up bowling. That’s why I went left-handed.”
Jackson is yet another example of bowlers who flat-out refuse to give up the sport they love because of an injury. Sometimes they cling to the joys of social interaction, sometimes it’s the exercise, or sometime it’s the competition. In any event, bowling is something that once it gets ingrained in one’s system, it maintains a tight hold.
What’s particularly unusual is that Jackson is bowling on a team with another individual who’s turned to the opposite hand because of an injury. Jackson said Doug Mahoe is in his second season of bowling with his “off” hand and they often discuss the finer points of the game.
For now, Jackson is looking ahead to improving her game. “I think I can get a lot better [with the left hand],” said Jackson, who bowled a sizzling 255 right-handed in a national tournament in Salt Lake City. “I’d like to get my average to 165 or 170.”
And she added: “I’ve always had confidence in my game. I think that’s the most important thing.”