Who: Beth Owen-Cipielewski
Title: Co-owner, Siesta Key Oyster Bar
A life in bowling seemed perfect to Beth Owen-Cipielewski, almost from the first time she rolled a ball down the lane.
That was back in Chicago, when she was 7 years old. She grew up in the sport, played professionally on and off for several years and ultimately opened a bowling school in Dallas. She also ran a large bowling-entertainment center, an experience that hooked her on a life in business.
Owen-Cipielewski moved to Sarasota in 2003. With her sister, she bought the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, known by its local moniker, SKOB. The restaurant is one of the more popular places in the Siesta Key business district.
Still, even with the daily challenges of the hospitality business, bowling is never too far from Owen-Cipielewski's mind. Indeed, when a representative for Team USA Bowling reached out a few months ago to see if Owen-Cipielewski would compete in a major upcoming tournament, the answer was a resounding yes.
Here's a glimpse into Owen-Cipielewski's bowling life:
Recent Accomplishment: Competed with Team USA in the Tournament of the Americas in Fort Lauderdale in early August. The tournament is one of the closest events the sport has to the Olympics.
Owen-Cipielewski won two gold medals at the tournament, although she says the competition and style of play was tough. “It was beyond comprehension in terms of difficulty,” she says.
Championship Lane: In 1995 Owen-Cipielewski won the Women's International Bowling Championship in Tucson, Ariz. She beat out more than 43,000 women to claim the title.
Owen-Cipielewski and fellow bowler Paula Wenzel also won the doubles championship at the Women's State Tournament in Naples in June. Owen-Cipielewski had never won a doubles championship.
Next Goal: Owen-Cipielewski might enter some Senior Men's Tour events, now that she recently turned 50 and is age-eligible. “I love to beat up on the guys,” she says.
Training regimen: Owen-Cipielewski hired a personal trainer through a Youfit Gym in Sarasota about eight months before the Tournament of the Americas. She went through a rigorous series of full-body workouts. “Most people don't realize that bowling is more about the lower body than the upper body,” Owen-Cipielewski says. “You have to have extra-strong thighs and a strong core.”
Mental game: One of Owen-Cipielewski's biggest challenges when she bowls is to fully clear her head of work issues, from the day-to-day to hurricane threats. “Normally I'm the one on the phone the whole time,” she says.
Fore: Bowling is a relentlessly mechanical sport, says Owen-Cipielewski. “Bowling is a lot like golf in terms of equipment,” she says. “It's extremely technical when it comes to throwing the ball.”
For starters, Owen-Cipielewski says the oil on a bowling lane is like the grass on a golf course. Different lanes call for different balls, with holes for fingers placed strategically in each bowling ball to handle the specific surface. Owen-Cipielewski uses her own personal hole-driller, whom she works with before tournaments.
Gear: Owen-Cipielewski goes through several pairs of shoes and soles each tournament. Some shoes can cost up to $150 a pair. She also wears a wristband religiously, to protect against carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
She's perfect: Owen-Cipielewski has bowled a perfect game, a 300 score, 13 times since she first did it 20 years ago. She says a 300 gets more mentally taxing with each strike. “The first nine are easy,” Owen-Cipielewski says. The last frame, though, is “heart-pounding and intense.”
Even more intense, says Owen-Cipielewski, is an 800 Series, which is a three-game set of scores that add up to at least 800. “That's (being) more consistent,” she says. Owen-Cipielewski has bowled an 800 series three times.
A Bowler's Love: Owen-Cipielewski has won a few $5,000 tournaments during her career. But she comes back more for the camaraderie than anything else. Says Owen-Cipielewski: “Women bowlers do it because they love the sport and the family they meet on the tour.”