PARKERSBURG - When Ryan Patterson was 3 years old, his grandfather, Dan Patterson, introduced him to the sport of bowling by taking his grandson to Ren-Dor Lanes.
Since that day, the bowling emporium now known as Pike Street Lanes has served as Ryan's second home. A home where he has the house record for a three-game series of 837.
Patterson recently graduated from Parkersburg South where he claimed three individual state championships and helped the Patriots to a team title.
Photo by Dave Poe
Ryan Patterson, front row center, signs a letter-of-intent to continue his bowling career at McKendree University during a Monday ceremony at Pike Street Lanes. He is seated with his mother, Michelle, and Parkersburg South bowling coach Bryan Taylor. Standing are his grandfather, Dan Patterson, and Pike Street Lanes proprietor Darren Smith.
Patterson is taking his talents to McKendree University, located in Lebanon, Ill., where he hopes to lead the Bearcats to a national bowling championship. McKendree competes in Division 1 in bowling, taking on the other national powers such as the University of Kansas.
To say that Patterson is a student of the game would be a gross understatement. Not only does he bowl anywhere from 40 to 100 games per week, but he soaks up all the knowledge he can from the area's other top bowlers, such as Duane Deem, Brent and Brian Watson, and his grandfather, who remains an influential figure in Ryan's life.
Although Patterson's favorite professional bowler is Tommy Jones, his style is more along the lines of the all-time winningest member of the Professional Bowlers Association, Walter Ray Williams Jr. The two share a similar philosophy when it comes to the sport -Straighter Is Greater.
Patterson, who bowls right-handed, is highly motivated. He wants to be the best -period. Not only does he outwork all his competitors in practice, but he also studies tapes of other bowlers in addition to observing their techniques.
But he is not a one-trick pony. He also was the captain of the Parkersburg South basketball team last fall and performed well enough in the classroom to earn a Promise Scholarship.
"He has been our rock,''said Parkersburg South bowling coach Bryan Taylor. "We are losing a great one. Ryan not only is a great bowler, but he's also a great teammate. He's a leader in the way he conducts himself. He has both the physical tools and the intellect to go as far as he desires.''
Patterson's immediate goal is to follow in the footsteps of former Ren-Dor proprietor Tom Newberry, a South graduate who led Glenville State to a national bowling title.
Patterson will be pursuing a degree in sports management with the goal of eventually becoming a coach and sharing his knowledge with others.
Before that happens, he wouldn't mind becoming a bowling professional if he finds he has the talent to be successful at bowling's highest level.
Parkersburg has produced more than its share of standout bowlers, including Sam Flanagan, once known as the Ironman of the PBA Tour for participating in every event.
Where Ryan Patterson eventually falls in the pecking order remains to be seen. But he has the talent and the work ethic to go as far as he desires.