NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Haley Lindley recalls she had to make a decision.
“It was 2017, after a Pepsi tournament and I had just qualified for Junior Gold,” she said. “For six years, I’d just bowled in leagues for fun, but when I qualified for the national tournament, my dad (Chris Lindley) said they (her parents) weren’t going to spend the money to send me unless I put in the practice to get better for the tournament. He told me to either take it seriously or decide if it was just something I wanted to do for fun. My older sister, Alyssa, had chosen to take the fun route, and I made the decision to take it seriously. Dad was just as pleased with either of our decisions. My decision has put me here.”
It’s probably a good thing Clemson doesn’t sponsor an NCAA bowling program or the Greenwood, South Carolina, product would be a Tiger and not a Commodore. The Lindleys are big Clemson fans; Haley has seen her share of Tiger football games, and there’s a special family photo of her in a Clemson cheerleading uniform as a 5-year-old.
Family is important to the Lindleys. Haley lists Ninny Becky (maternal grandmother Becky Wideman) as the person she most admires.
“She honestly loves everybody and never meets a stranger,” Haley says. “She will do anything for anybody; she’s honestly spoiled me my whole life and is one of the sweetest ladies anyone could ever meet. She lives 15 minutes from us and when my older sister cheered, Ninny didn’t miss a football or basketball game all four years.”
The Lindleys also bond around home-cooked meals and not surprisingly, Haley has morphed into a good cook. She’s gotten a boost from watching TikTok cooking videos, promoted by social media influencer Alix Earle, but mostly her expertise is home grown.
“I really enjoy cooking,” she said. “I just need a recipe to follow—it makes it so much easier. Baking, cooking, pretty much anything, I just enjoy doing it. Growing up in the south, we had home-cooked meals together, and I would always end up helping my mom (Teresa) in the kitchen. My grandparents did the cooking on Thanksgivings, and I’d help there, too. I’ve grown up enjoying baking and cooking. I’ve always been an independent person, so I feel like teaching myself how to cook, I could make whatever I want to.”
Learning to do anything she wants is a hard-earned trait that has applied to her bowling career. She considers herself more “self-made” than someone blessed with natural gifts.
“My dad has always told me that as long as someone puts in the work, that work will beat talent.” Haley said.
Dad would know. He carries a 225-230 league average, and her mom and Ninny Becky also bowl. Actually, her mom got her dad into bowling when they were dating in high school, and they still bowl twice a week. Even her older sister bowls on occasion.
It took time—actually years—for Haley to see the fruits of her labor.
“There was a gradual improvement as years went on,” Haley recalled. “I was 13th at Junior Gold that first year, but the first really big jump I noticed was not until 2021. Something clicked after a tournament where I bowled very badly, and it took off after that.”
“There were a lot times when things crossed my mind,” she continued. “What’s the point of doing this? The hard work is not paying off. Why am I wasting my time? Why am I going to keep investing my time? A lot came back to remembering that my dad was there, not to push me, but to remind me why started in the first place. Every time I wanted to give up, he’d remind me why I started to begin with.”