As the Wall High School Varsity Boy's Ice Hockey team secured their second consecutive division championship this week with a with a commanding 8-1 win over rival Manasquan, (Go Wall!) Spotlight On Wall caught up with 17-year-old Junior Forward Ryan Waddell, who is also a star bowler for the high school.
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Now, our Spotlight on Ryan Waddell:
You're a hockey player. But a bowler, too. You're a bowling hockey player. It's an unusual combination. Can you tell us how that evolved?
I grew up playing baseball and soccer and had a lot of success in both sports playing for the South Wall All-Stars in baseball and the MOSA Select soccer teams over the years, but ever since I was five years old, I started "bugging" my parents to let me try ice hockey. In 2003, when I was 7, my parents took me to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Devils and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim - the Devils won the cup and I was hooked for life. But it wasn't until five years later that they finally allowed me to join a "house" league at Jersey Shore Arena to see if I liked playing ice hockey. I fell in love with the sport immediately and have tried to spend as much time as I could on the ice ever since. A year later, I started playing travel hockey and had to give up baseball and soccer to pursue my new "career". Then, prior to entering my sophomore year in 2011, my sister Sara informed my dad that she wanted to try out for the high school bowling team as a freshman that year. The only problem was that she hadn't bowled very much and wasn't that good. My dad would take her to Sea Girt Lanes to teach her how to bowl and let her practice. I, of course, would tag along to keep her company so I could bowl too. It wasn't long before I was consistently throwing games over 200 with a house ball, and my father told me maybe I should give up hockey and take up bowling for Wall High School. Well, the seed had been planted. We then asked some questions and found out that as long as one of the sports was a non-contact sport, I could play both in the same sports season. Because hockey is a non-traditional sport in terms of practice and game times (usually at night) and bowling had a set schedule of every Monday, Wednesday (practice), and Thursday right after school, there was very little conflict between the two sports, so I was able to participate in both. In fact, Sara (as a freshman) and I both made the varsity bowling teams that year.
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Name: Ryan Waddell
Class Rank: Junior
Sports: Ice Hockey (Forward), Bowling (Anchor - 5th Bowler)
* Earned Varsity letter in Ice Hockey freshman year
* First varsity Ice Hockey Goal sophomore year
* Part of two division championship hockey teams 2011-12 and 2012-2013
* Bowled 211 in first state tournament, sophomore year
* Bowled personal high game at 277, and high series at 679, both sophomore year
* * * * *
Are there any lessons or strategies from one sport that transfer to the other? In other words, is there anything you've learned in bowling that you use on the ice and vice-versa?
Hand-eye coordination is essential in both sports even though they are applied in very different settings. On the ice, I need to pass or shoot a puck as accurately as possible to be successful, so my focus has to be sharp in a very fast-paced environment with a lot of obstacles. While bowling, there are no defenders, but my focus has to be just as sharp because I have to hit my marks in order to keep putting the ball into the pocket to earn strikes. While it is a much more quiet and slow paced atmosphere, it still requires a great amount of concentration and mental toughness to stay consistent. Both sports require an assessment of "field conditions" as some hockey rinks have softer ice or uneven boards, and the lanes in bowling vary with the amount of oil they have so you have to make the necessary adjustments in your approach and release to accommodate for the conditions. Even as play continues, the ice changes as it gets chewed up and the bowling lanes change throughout the match as the oil wears off and the lanes get dryer, so you constantly have to make adjustments. Even though bowling seems to be more of an individual sport, I have found that my teammates rely on my performance just as much as my hockey teammates do. They are two very different sports, but the camaraderie and discipline needed to participate effectively in both are very similar.
Being involved in two winter sports and going to school has got to put a crunch on your time. How do you manage to keep your grades up while putting forth the effort needed for two sports?
Playing two varsity sports in the same season is very taxing for sure, but remember that bowling is only a three-day per week commitment and ice hockey is usually only four days. Most high school sports are a Monday - Saturday commitment with either a practice or a game every day right after school. They practice for two hours or so each day. Due to the cost of renting the ice, hockey practices are only an hour, and we only practice twice each week. Ice hockey games usually last about an hour and 45 minutes. Bowling matches can last up to three hours, and our one practice day only lasts for two. Fortunately, the schedules worked out to where the only day that both sports required my time was Wednesday for bowling practice after school until 4:00 and then I would have ice hockey games Wednesday night's at 7:45 p.m. Most days are left with plenty of time to keep up with homework, and I also take advantage of free time during the school day (usually during unit lunch) to get work done because I know that I am going to be tired when I get home from practice or a game.
Do you see yourself continuing with bowling through college? Or hockey?
Hockey is my first passion and I hope to be able to continue playing it throughout college, even if only at the club level. I have worked very hard to improve on my skating because I started playing at a much older age than most of the other travel players. We have just started researching college programs and requirements to see what opportunities may be available to me. I enjoy bowling, and seem to do well, but I don't know if it would be a priority in college. But who knows, if I throw a couple more 277s and do really well next year, anything is possible.
Do you have any advice for other students who may want to take up a sport but think they're too busy with school?
I say go for it, participating in high school athletics has a lot of advantages and offers many "life" lessons. Commitment, discipline, teamwork, perseverance and time management are essential components of any team. When we finish with school and start our careers, we will need to have these key traits to be successful. Learning how to work with others in a competitive environment takes a lot of time. High School athletics goes a long way to helping us develop those habits and I strongly recommend that if someone really enjoys a particular sport, they should try to participate in it at the high school level.
Playing two sports in the same season is tough, and I don't know if it could work in any other season than the winter one with the non-traditional schedules that ice-hockey and bowling have.