Dedicated Montana bowler competes at WC

By Wishelle Banks
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev. -
A life-changing injury may have left Peggy Jacobsen of Helena, Mont., dependent on a wheelchair, but that has not stopped her from pursuing her love of bowling, which includes an annual trip to the United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships.

The 66-year-old left-hander made her fifth tournament appearance this week and posted sets of 305 in singles, 288 in team and 283 in doubles for an 876 all-events total at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. She competed in Division 6, which features bowlers with averages of 129 and below.

Jacobsen started bowling in 1974 as a right-hander, but her life changed in 1993 when her apartment caught on fire. The only way out was jumping from her third-floor window. The fall left her with a spinal cord injury, and after four months in the hospital, her rehabilitation was complicated by osteoporosis in her right wrist.

"I wanted to keep on bowling," said Jacobsen, who bowls regularly at Helena's Sleeping Giant Lanes. "Somebody had given me a magazine about the Wheelchair Bowling Association, and they were having a national tournament in Las Vegas. I talked somebody into taking me, and when I got there, I told them I was a bowler and I wanted to learn how to bowl from a wheelchair."

Refusing to be sidelined from a sport she loved, Jacobsen became a lifetime member of the American Wheelchair Bowling Association (AWBA). The AWBA was founded in 1962 and now holds tournaments throughout the country, including the AWBA National Championships, which is taking place June 9-14 in Glen Allen, Va.

"The thing about bowling in a wheelchair, with other wheelchair bowlers, is that they don't judge you," Jacobsen said. "They don't ask questions. They just accept you for the way you are."

Jacobsen now does everything right-handed, except for bowling. She has worked hard and practiced, so she is able to deliver the ball with her left hand, and she continues to compete in events like the USBC Women's Championships.

"I've had a lot of people offer to give me lessons," Jacobsen said. "I know the basics of bowling. I've been bowling for so many years that I know what I'm supposed to be doing, but actually doing it doesn't always work. I survived, and I'm thankful for that. I'm not ready to give up anything yet."

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Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Women's Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.