Growing up in a bowling family, it came naturally to Ryan and Riley Speer, both students at Lutheran High School, who have been bowling since they were able to pick up a ball.
The Speers have grown up bowling with their family since they were young and have spent a big part of their life in bowling alleys across the state and country.
Richard, their father, bowled in various leagues during the week and Ryan would tag along.
Spending a lot of time at bowling alleys, Ryan gradually became better and better, strengthening his love and knowledge for the sport.
“By the time I was born they brought me along and they let me go bowl while they bowled their leagues and I developed a passion for it and I’ve kept it ever since,” Ryan said.
Jennifer, their mother, said they had little plastic bowling pins for them while they were younger and they played with those often.
“I bet we set them up a million times,” she said.
Riley is a couple years younger than Ryan and being around him bowling so often, he took a liking to it as well.
When the brothers started out bowling, they would spend at least one or two days a week at the bowling alley, Ryan explained. As they became more serious about the sport, it became three to five days a week.
Both brothers will compete on the Lutheran High School bowling team this upcoming school year. After high school, Ryan hopes to be able to bowl in college, but has not committed to a school yet.
“I’m excited for this year,” Jennifer said. “This is the first time they’ll be in school together.”
Lutheran High School bowling coach, Chris Barger, has been training with them since before they were in high school. Barger said from day one, he knew they were going to be good at bowling. He said he’s worked with both boys on controlling their emotions during games.
“Emotions can cause you to win and lose games,” Barger explained.
He said this year, he is going to work with each of them on various aspects of their personal games to improve.
Being able to compete in a sport with your brother is something not many people get to do. Ryan said having a sibling connection makes them both improve.
“We have that sibling connection,” he said. “So we feed off each other so when I’m there watching him, I know his game and I can help him on the spot and come with stuff if he’s struggling and he does the same for me.”
Riley said it’s weird living with someone who is at the top of their bowling career.“I like getting to compete with him because I live with him and I get to see him every day,” he said.
A few weeks ago, the Speer brothers both competed in the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Junior Gold Championships at Expo Bowl. Ryan competed in the U18 division and placed 10th out of 1,166 players and Riley placed 55th out of around 630 players.
Ryan, being a ‘numbers guy,’ said he did the math for him and his brother and he beat 99.9% of the other bowlers and his brother beat 98.6% of his competitors.
“They love it, they work hard at it and it’s paid off,” Jennifer said.
She said they have become more well-known in the world of bowling and they both have made her a very proud mother.
“The thing that inspires me the most is our mom,” Ryan said. “We have a thing we do before I start a tournament, it doesn’t matter if it’s a small local tournament or Junior Gold, before every round, me and my mom fist bump before I throw a shot”
Now, if she isn’t with him at a tournament, she’ll text him the fist emoji and he’ll do the same. Jennifer said she was not sure how it started but it is something that helps him relax and focus before his matches.
She said at Junior Gold, Ryan was having a rough block and she went up to him and said, “You know what we didn’t do? We didn’t fist bump.”
Prior to one of the brothers getting their license, their parents put thousands of miles on their car and countless hours in the car. Now, if she isn’t with him at a tournament, she’ll text him the fist emoji and he’ll do the same.
Bowling so often, Ryan said being around the lanes is an easy way to make friends.
“Even if you don’t take it super serious… recreationally. It’s still very fun,” Ryan said. “But as you get more serious and you travel to all these tournaments, and you get to see just so many different locations, so many different bowling centers, but you meet so many new people that all share a common interest. You get into these series tournaments and it’s all people that really like bowling and really want to win and develop their bowling career.”