California Bowling Writers

June 12, 2006


CONTACT: Wishelle Banks or Bob Sagan
USBC Women's Championships Media Relations
(775) 336-4475 or
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RENO, Nev. - With approximately 55,000 women participating in the United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships presented by the Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus, it's safe to say that bowling brings people together. For sisters Pat Foster, Clara Conley and Janice Cook, all of California, their friendly sibling rivalry on the lanes May 27 ultimately became a tribute to their late father, Dale Starkey.

Starkey, of Roseville, Calif., died May 19 at the age of 82 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Prompted by his widow, Esther, the grief-stricken family decided to keep their commitment to head to Reno's National Bowling Stadium and bowl in the USBC Women's Championships.

Now all retired, the sisters have been bowling since before they were teenagers. Foster's average is 174, Conley's is 165 and Cook's is 149. Together, they've participated in a total of 27 national tournaments. Their father's death last week naturally left them reeling, and wondering if they should even come to Reno to bowl.

"We're trying to get back into the swing of life," Cook says, adding that there have been several deaths in the family within the past three weeks. The sisters say it was their 80-year-old mother, also a bowler, who ultimately reminded them what their father would say.

"Mom said, 'Nope, we're going,'" recalls Foster. "'We're going to do this. Dad would have wanted this. He wouldn't want us sitting back, crying. He would have told us to go for it.'"

Go for it they did. As they wrapped up game one of singles play, the astonished sisters realized they finished with the exact same score and accomplished it nearly the same way.

"I got a spare and a strike in the tenth frame," explains Conley, 57, the middle sister. "I got my 181, and then Pat was up after me."

Next up was Foster, 55, who struck and spared in the 10th frame for 181.

With the patience of a saint, Cook, the oldest at 59, finally gets her turn to talk.

"I also got up there and had a spare and a strike in the 10th for 181," Cook recalls. "I was hoping for two strikes, to beat the two of them, but it didn't work out that way."

Sisters to the core, they quickly engage in a friendly debate.

"I was the youngest, so I figured I had to beat her," Foster says, shooting a look at Conley. "I couldn't let my older sister beat me."

"That's OK, because she's got the higher average," Conley reminds her. Just to be fair.

The three women begin talking all at once, then just as abruptly they stop, laughing at their good-natured display of sibling rivalry. Certainly, Starkey would smile at their exchange, and the way they still pick at each other over little things. In a moment of unity, the three sisters all agree on one thing.

"We bowled our 181 just for Dad," they say. "This one was for you, Dad."