It’s not unusual for a high school bowler to own a collection of balls.
But Ross High School junior Adam Roberts has almost 50.
Roberts said it’s just a part of his passion for the sport, but perhaps it also has a little something to do with why he entered Thursday’s match against Northwest as the Southwest Ohio Conference’s top bowler.
He was averaging 223.5 pins per game and the Rams were 7-4 (5-3 SWOC) through Wednesday — two years after going 1-19 in their inaugural season.
“There are some people that have a lot of balls, so they understand, but they still think I’m a little ridiculous,” Roberts said. “I just kind of collect them. I watch YouTube videos and see different ones and like trying new things. I’ve got a different ball for any kind of lane conditions — dry, medium and heavy (oil). I have every kind of ball you can think of.
“At each house there are different ways to play the lanes. I’ve bowled everywhere, so I know which balls I want to bring. For heavier oils, I have stronger hooking balls, and it just depends on the conditions which ones work best.”
Roberts, who was a SWOC first-team honoree the past two years, has been learning the lanes since he was about 7. He and his father, Ross coach Eddie Roberts, joined a father-son league and spent many hours bowling together.
“I’ve just always enjoyed it,” Adam Roberts said. “My dad was a bowler when he was younger because his mom worked at a bowling alley. He taught me about it, and I got into it. It’s my passion.”
Eddie Roberts said it became clear Adam could be competitive by about fifth or sixth grade.
He also plays basketball, but just in a couple local recreational leagues since the high school season coincides with bowling. Eddie Roberts started the Ross bowling team three years ago so Adam and others could compete. He plans to attend Ohio State University and try out for the bowling team.
“He picked it up pretty quickly, but we worked with him quite a while when he was younger,” Eddie Roberts said. “We would spend hours bowling, 20-30 games at a time, and he just kind of got hooked on it. He bowls anytime anywhere, even on vacation. If there is a bowling alley, he spots it.
“We probably should have stock in a bowling alley so we could afford all the balls and lanes.”
Roberts also is unique in that he bowls two-handed, placing two fingers in the ball and cradling it at the side before letting it roll, and now he has five or six other teammates doing the same.
On a flight back from Florida when Roberts was 9 or 10, he saw a video of professional bowler Jason Belmonte rolling two-handed and decided he wanted to try it. It was difficult at first, but Roberts believes it has made him a better bowler.
“I was determined to do it,” Roberts said. “I don’t know if it was better for me at the time, but I knew I wanted to get better at it, and I’m definitely better two-handed bowling than one-handed now. I feel I have a lot more control over my ball reaction and going through the pins better and getting more strikes.”
Roberts ranked ninth in the SWOC with a 184.5 average as a freshman and improved to 199.5 — good for fourth in the conference — last year. Both seasons he missed the cut to go to districts, but Eddie Roberts believes they have corrected the problem in 10-pin bowling that seemed to set him back.
“He’s done well all year but then just kind of choked in the (sectional) tournament the past two years,” Eddie Roberts said. “Ten-pin bowling hurts him. He’s a great strike bowler, but needed to work on spares. I think we’ve corrected that, and the way he is bowling right now, I would say he is going to reach his goal of making it to state this year.”