If not for Becca Rubenstein, Vernon Hills’ Kelly Kalsch might never have found her way to the bowling lanes.
Back when the two seniors were freshmen, Rubenstein had to do some recruiting to get Kalsch out for the school’s girls bowling team.
“We didn’t have enough girls to make a competitive team and I [stressed] that there’s no running in bowling,” Rubenstein said with a smile. “She decided to come to practice, and she never missed a day after that.”
Although Kalsch lacked experience, it was clear she had potential.
“She was making spares right away,” Rubenstein said. “You could tell that she was good from the first day.”
It didn’t take Kalsch long to realize she had made the right decision.
“I kind of fell in love with the sport,” she said. “I really enjoyed everything about [bowling]. I remember watching [teammate] Taylor Rigwood at the state tournament and seeing her and all the other good bowlers, it opened my eyes to how competitive the sport is.”
This motivated her to spend summers working on her game. That work paid off as a senior when she chased a 180 average for most of the year. Her season came to an end Feb. 15 at the Zion-Benton sectional at Sunset Lanes in Waukegan, where she averaged 180 for six games.
Kalsch’s ability to knock down pins was critical to Vernon Hills’ success, but her positive attitude and leadership were just as important. This was the second consecutive season where she was selected to the North Suburban Conference sportsmanship team.
“I like how bowling is competitive but also very social,” she said. “I always think it’s important to try and look at the positive side.”
That positive attitude made an impression on the entire program.
“Kelly truly wants everyone to do well, not just her teammates,” Vernon Hills coach Andra Dalton said. “She enjoys seeing other [people] succeed.”
Added Rubenstein, “She’s a people pleaser in a very good way. She likes making other people happy.”
Kalsch said her teammates made this year particularly special.
“The whole team got along and we had lots of great energy,” she said. “I can’t believe the season is over. It flew by.”