DYER | Maybe bowling truly is like riding a bicycle — you never forget how to do it.
And Scott Schmal, 35, of Dyer, didn’t forget how to do it well after taking a decade off from the sport he loves.
Schmal had not touched a bowling ball for 10 years — putting them in a closet and leaving them there. That is, until a friend asked Schmal last fall if he wanted to sub in a league.
“I needed something to do socially, and getting back into bowling seemed right,” Schmal said.
It led to the former Professional Bowlers Association member being convinced to compete in a regional tournament on May 3 in Madison, Wis. In the end, he took home his first PBA title with a 231-191 victory over Trevor Yonan of Sheboygan, Wis., in the final match.
“I pulled out some old equipment from the closet for leagues,” said Schmal, who rolled a pair of 800 series and a 300 game at Lynwood Bowl during the season with an old Track Crunch ball before competing in some local and state tournaments.
That’s where he learned he needed some new tricks.
“I got some new equipment after getting beat up in tourneys,” he said. “I was ready to test my skills against tough competition and I bowled really well in Madison. I thought it was a perfect place to get back into PBA events.
“I bowled a few (PBA) regionals from 2001 to 2004, but I just got burned out and didn’t have the time to focus on bowling.”
Schmal had competed at Bowl-A-Vard Lanes in Madison before, and Lynwood manager Bob Carlson convinced him this was the time return to PBA competition because he was bowling well.
Taking 10 years off never changed how Schmal felt about bowling, he said. He just needed a break after starting when he was two years old and continuing through youth leagues and into his 20s in PBA Regionals.
“I’ve loved the game my whole life,” he said. “Bowling was the perfect outlet.”
Before the PBA win, Schmal won a double tournament in Plainfield, Ill., a sweeper at Lynwood Bowl, and did well in the Indiana state tourney. So continuing his tourney competition is a given.
He said the next event could be The Times/Pepsi Bowling Classic, which concludes its qualifying this weekend at Olympia Lanes in Hammond.
It could be the perfect next step in Schmal’s return to bowling.