By Cary Shuman
The name Vestal jumps off the bowling sheet like the name Yastrzemski would in a batting order.
Yes, 29-year-old Lynn resident Rebekah Vestal is the daughter of Candlepin Bowling Hall of Fame inductee Nance Vestal, one of the game’s all-time greats.
Rebekah Vestal is competing in the Lynn City Bowling League this season and she’s starting to make a name for herself. Rebekah is currently among the leading female bowlers in the league, challenging perennial champion Charlene Landry and Nikki McKeever (Rebekah’s cousin) for the highest average.
Rebekah fully recognizes and appreciates her mother’s accomplishments and her status as one of the elites in candlepin bowling. She used to tag along as a child to Nance Vestal’s professional matches and tournaments.
“I’ve probably been to every bowling alley across Massachusetts up to Canada,” says Rebekah. “I realized later as I got older how many of my bowling friends look up to my mom and think so much of her.”
She found joy in the sport at a young age, participating in youth leagues at the Lynnway Sportscenter, Jim Barber’s Lucky Strike Lanes, and Park Place Lanes in Windham, N.H.
“I bowled in the State Junior Championships but I was never as good as my sister (Sarah) or my cousin when we were kids,” said Rebekah.
No youth bowler ever had a better set of instructors. Not only did Rebekah receive tips from her mother, Nance, but there was direction from her mother’s friend, Janet Poch, a Hall of Famer who was destined to be the next Stasia Czernicki until WCVB-TV Channel 5 took its pro bowling show off the air.
And just for good measure, Hall of Famer Jim Barber was always ready to provide assistance to young bowlers like Rebekah.
“I grew up with all these Hall of Famers and when I started bowling again (as an adult), it was great listening to them. Taking in all of their advice meant so much to me, more so than when I was a teenager,” said Rebekah.
She attended Essex Aggie where she played soccer, but bowling stood out as her favorite sport.
After taking a few years off from bowling, Rebekah joined a league at Lucky Strike Lanes at the age of 25.
And now she’s back in the 48-bowler Lynn City League, demonstrating textbook techniques in her approach to the foul line and delivery of the bowling ball.
“It’s taken a long time to get the techniques just right but my mother is so natural at it, so just watching her really helped,” said Rebekah, who has two children, Abigail, 10, and Lily, 6. “But I’ve been told by a lot of people that my approach is really natural and really good.”
Rebekah carries an average just north of 100 and has a high triple of 365 and a high single of 138. She loves being around the game in the historic Lynn City League.
“I really enjoy seeing everyone each week. Bowling in the league is a lot of fun,” said Rebekah.
Charlene Landry remembers Rebekah being around the lanes as a kid.
“I’ve known Rebekah since she was little,” said Landry. “She’s a great bowler. I’m happy for the way she’s bowling this season. I love the competition. Rebekah’s a great competitor like her mom.”
Rebekah said she was so proud to be in attendance when her mother was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 2011. “The whole family was there and it was a great night.”
Can Rebekah Vestal get to that top echelon herself?
“I doubt I’ll ever be the caliber of bowler my mother is,” said Rebekah. “Maybe by the time I’m 70 if I keep bowling.”
Besides their amazing bowling heritage, one other thing Nance and Rebekah Vestal share is their birthdays (October 15).
“She’s exactly 27 years older than I am,” said Rebekah. “I guess I was a good birthday gift.”