- Home Town: Horseheads, New York
- Birth Date: 8/18/1966
- Throws: Right
- Ball Weight: 15 lbs.
- 300 Games: 51
- Career National Titles: 4
- Career Earnings: $1,703,419
- Positive Axis Point: 4-1/4" straight across
- Favorite Layout: Pin over middle finger - CG kicked right, no extra hole
Ryan began his bowling career on the PBA Tour in 1987, winning Rookie of the Year honors. Previous to becoming a tour regular, he made my first show at the World Open in Chicago in the fall of 1986, losing to eventual champion George Branham III. Shafer has championed 4 PBA titles in 56 TV appearances. "Yes, I have defied probability and statistics". He has made the "Show" in 14 Majors, never winning one, but finishing 2nd five times, a record for a non-major winner. What isn't known about Shafer is that he also has a 4th and 2 5th place finishes at the US Open but did not make those telecasts. He has also has a 5th place finish at the Tournament Of Champions, without qualifying for TV - so, that's 18 top 5 Majors' finishes. At the US Open alone, Shafer has 9 career Top 10's, including 8th as a 19 year old amateur in 1986. When asked about his US Open career "I am extremely proud of my Open record as I believe it is the most difficult test in bowling".
Ryan is 1 of 2 players to have bowled 2 televised 300 games on the PBA Tour with Wes Malott being the other pro to accomplish this record. When asked about his most memorable bowling moment he said, "my 300 (game) against Jeff Carter in Indianapolis on March 18, 2007 was probably the highlight of my career, because I was throwing it straight in my favorite bowling center against a good friend with many good friends in attendance, the only thing missing was my wife. Fortunately, she was there for my 2nd televised 300 game at the Summer Series in Chicago.
Shafer is the all-time PBA Eastern Regional victories leader with 26. He truly enjoys bowling regionals because "it helps me connect with the younger players. It’s fun to lend them guidance as my mentor and friend, Del Ballard, did for me. I would never have accomplished what I have without him".
Of utmost importance to Shafer is the respect he’s earned from his peers being a 2-time Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award Recipient (2009 and 2013). The Pat Patterson Award for service in the PBA Regional program is also on his mantle, which is also very special to Shafer.
On a personal note, Ryan wants to share that the biggest loss in his life off the lanes has been the passing of his wife, Michelle Shafer, in January of 2014 after a prolonged battle with depression. "It's the toughest thing I have ever had to endure, she was my rock and my motivation and I will always be heartbroken and miss her dearly". Shafer credits friends and family for helping him get through the darkest times. In her honor and memory, he has started the Michelle Shafer Scholarship Tournament Fund where every year, he will host an event for youth bowlers and award significant scholarship money to deserving boys and girls. Shafer's goal of this scholarship fund is to "keep her spirit alive while helping young people with their education along the way".
Shafer was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes in 1985 and has worn an insulin pump, since. He proudly represents Animas and the One Touch Ping Insulin Pump in efforts to raise awareness about childhood diabetes and enjoys his mission of speaking with kids’ groups about living with this disease.
Ryan has one son - his cat Wiggles. Wiggles has become very famous on Facebook. When asked about Wiggles, Shafer stated “I don't know what I would do without him, I even have a Wiggles Storm jersey”. Shafer is a huge New York Yankee and Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Some of his Storm jerseys are patterned after those teams.
When asked about the individuals who’ve been most important to his career, “of course, my Mom and Dad and my brother and sister. At Rossi Lanes where I practice, many thanks to Sperry Navone and Jim Pitts. Del Ballard for teaching me to win. Jeff Mraz and Dick Gran for being the best sponsors a player could ask for. Eugene McCune for being a great roommate for all these years. All the people at Storm who have supported me....Bill and Barbara Chrisman, Dave Symes, Wes Pye, Doene Moos, Lee Upp, Steve Todd, Ernest Goedicke, Hank Boomershine, the Luongo’s and Roger Noordhoek. And of course my wife, Michelle. I never could have become the person I am without her.
In the future, Shafer hopes to own a bowling center so he can help shape the future of bowling the way he learned the game from his mentors. He truly enjoys coaching youth bowlers and high school teams and plans to make that a priority in his business plans.
Ryan joined Storm in 2001 having enjoyed his time as a member of the Storm family for 10 years now, “I can't imagine working for a better company”.
Ryan has 50 PBA televised show appearances. He holds 4 PBA National titles and 17 regional titles. He shot the 18th televised 300 in PBA history and in the 2011 Geico Team Shootout he recorded another televised 300. In 1987, Ryan was named the PBA Rookie of the Year and won the ABC (now USBC) All Events title. He was voted Bowling Digest’s Player of the Year in 2000. He has competed in 13 Japans Cups and is 16th all-time in the PBA earnings list. Ryan has two first team all American honors (Bowler’s Journal) and has the most second place finishes at PBA major tournaments without a title – something most might not admit to but Ryan is actually proud of. In 2009 Shafer won Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award, and he's also the 2012 Pat Patterson Award winner in the PBA East Region.
|Season||Events||Cashes||Match Play||TV Finals||Titles||Avg||Earnings|
I go to the gym four days a week when I'm not touring. My trainer, Sarah, outlined a warm-up regimen for me to increase my overall flexibility, but to also concentrate on my shoulder because my coach, Chris Schlemer, says my arm swing is too short. This warm-up takes about 20 minutes. I then lift weights, concentrating mostly on my legs, but I have been doing more upper body work. My wife and I then do 45 minutes of cardio at night.
As far as bowling goes, I like to practice at Rossi Lanes in Elmira after 3PM because that's when my friend, Jim Pitts, commonly known as Lane Boy, can lay down patterns for me to play on. It is also a convenient time for me to coach my friends Bill Fairchild, Bob Leonard, and Pat Moffe along with Lane Boy and the high school kids.
1. You have bowled all over the world. What is the best country you have ever bowled in excluding the US? I have bowled in Japan, Canada, and Germany. I always enjoyed my time in Japan at the Japan Cup, because of the prestige and history of the event along with the knowledge and respect of the fans. I always felt like a true professional athlete while visiting Japan.
2. Do you have any interesting superstitions or routines you go through before, during, or after bowling? What is the most interesting superstition or routine you have seen from another bowler on tour? I am probably one of the most superstitious players on tour. I like to have an eight or a five in the last four digits of a serial number in any ball I use. I only pick up the ball with my left hand. I wear my jerseys in a certain order during an event. And most importantly, my wife is not allowed to watch Mariano Rivera pitch (after effects of the 2001 World Series).
3. What is the best advice you have for a teenage bowler looking to make a career out of bowling? Honestly, go to school, but continue to work on your game. Find a person knowledgeable in bowling to be your coach, but also learn enough to be your own coach. After all, no one is responsible for you, except you. Continue to enjoy the game. Do not get burned out. My best advice if you can afford it would be to travel to Reno and see Mike Jasnau at Lane 81 Pro Shop. He is the best. I am fortunate to have two great coaches - Jasnau and Chris Schlemer. I have also worked with two other great ones - Steve Kloempken and Del Ballard.
4. When do you know when you need to change bowling balls? When the one I’m using quits striking. It also depends on the scoring pace. If the scoring pace is low, I don’t want to give up the pocket. I am more than willing to grind it out and pick spares. That’s why I love the US Open. You also have to be aware if you are throwing good shots or if the lanes have changed significantly. Sometimes, I see people change balls because that’s the easy thing to do when a change in ball speed or tilt is the real answer. However, I am always tinkering on fill balls in the tenth frame, searching for something a little better, in case the ball I’m using suddenly doesn’t have a good look.
5. If you had one piece of advice for bowlers trying to elevate their game to a higher level, what would it be? First, master your “A” game. Then practice becoming versatile. Think Norm Duke. Repetition is the key. Practice spare shooting. All the greats are great spare shooters. Finally, learn about equipment and what works for you. Don’t depend on others to tell you what you should be using.
6. How do you block out distractions around you during tournament play? I am not sure if it's a confidence issue or more so a mental game issue. Honestly, I have never had a problem focusing on what I am doing so this is a hard question for me to answer. I am just an intense person when I bowl.
7. What is one valuable life lesson that you learned while on the PBA Tour that you believe would benefit most people? I have always believed in treating others the way you would like to be treated. Bowling on tour has only reinforced that belief.
8. Are there any particular songs or bands that you listen to before you bowl to help you get pumped up? I used to listen to hard rock or heavy metal to pump me up so to speak, but not anymore. I just try to relax and repeat shots. Oddly enough, right now I like Shinedown and The Who as an old fallback option.
9. If you got to choose a superhero ability, what would it be? I would want to be invisible every once in awhile.
10. What or who got you started in the sport of bowling? My parents when I was very young. They ran a bowling center and I would help clean or run the front counter. Then I was allowed to practice, but only after I earned it.
11/25/2013: The PBA Tour is Back on ESPN Sunday!
6/17/2013: Shafer Over Bohn in PBA Eastern Regional