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Ryan Wilson: Getting the Ball Rolling

posted on Monday, January 7, 2019 in  Alumni Profiles

WATERLOO—Ryan Wilson has channeled his lifelong passion and talent for bowling into a career. And he has found a way to give back to the community while doing it.

“One of the big benefits is that this has allowed me to stick with it. I get to be around the sport that I love and do it as a career,” said Wilson, 34.

During his bowling career, he has rolled in more than 30 perfect 300 games and around 20 800 series — which is the difficult task of scoring at least 800 in a three-game run — and he has been a bronze level United State Bowling Congress coach for 10 years.

“Saturday mornings you can find Ryan coaching our youths on the lanes,” said his wife, Mindy. “Ryan has also spent several summers coaching and traveling with the AAU youth bowlers allowing them to bowl in tournaments at a national level.”

Wilson also serves on the board of directors for the Iowa Bowling Proprietors Association, which is the nonprofit industry group for the state, and he sits on the area bowling hall of fame committee where he reviews applications for inductees.

The Waterloo native grew up in a bowling family. His parents were bowlers, and as a child he started in a league with his older brothers.

“Since both of my brothers were bowlers, I was always trying to follow in their footsteps,” Wilson said.

West High School started its bowling team while Wilson was a student. He joined, and the squad placed first its first year in existence. As a senior, he was the team captain.

After high school, Wilson studied web design and graphic communications at Hawkeye Community College. During his job search, the owner of Maple Lanes on University Avenue approached him after he helped fill a Friday night league and made him an offer.

“He basically told me I had a knack for this kind of work,” Wilson said. “That was 2007, and I’m still here.”

He took the Maple Lanes job, and over the years he worked his way up the ranks into a management role and is currently the bowling center’s general manager.

Tragedy struck in 2011 when his older brother Brad died of a heart attack. Brad was 34 and an accomplished bowler, and his family established a college scholarship fund in his name to honor his memory.

The annual scholarship is funded with a bowling tournament and goes to high school seniors. Wilson plays a role in reviewing the applications, and so far the program has handed out more than $7,000.

Wilson also helped Maple Lanes partner with the Waterloo Black Hawks hockey team for the Battle the Black Hawks bowling fundraiser. The annual event allows fans to compete with hockey players, and the proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity.

In his spare time, he also enjoys golf and softball. He and his wife have a daughter, Kallie, age 6, and a son, Colton, 4.

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