WAVERLY, N.Y. (WENY) - Ryan Shafer has won five Professional Bowlers Association, (PBA), titles. He currently competes on the PBA 50 Tour and is in search of his first win. Shafer's PBA 50 season begins in June, but one of the highlights of his career is right around the corner.

"At the Hall of Fame dinner, I get presented with the Tony Reyes Community Service Award for my work with suicide prevention and awareness in honor of my wife, Michelle," Shafer said. "So that is very meaningful to me, my family, my friends who helped me so much with that. So, I am looking forward to that banquet and receiving that award."

Shafer has been on the PBA tour for 37 years, but that career was almost dramatically cut short.

"What the bowling balls were made of changed, and they became a lot more aggressive," Shafer said. "And, in 1993, I went 17 tournaments without making any money. So I was basically broke.  I mean, I had nowhere to go. I was fortunate enough that I found a gentleman that was willing to sponsor me, and he sponsored me for 30 years. Good man, kept me out on tour and allowed me to become a champion. Because without his help, I wouldn't have done that." 

In the current bowling game, every bowling ball is unique. The inside of each ball has a different footprint that determines its spin rate, breaking point, and distance. Shafer had to reconstruct his game if he wanted to continue playing.

"I had to change my whole game to adapt to the new bowling balls," Shafer said. "Some people couldn't make that transformation, so I was proud of myself for being able to do it." 

Shafer began bowling when he was a child. His parents owned Paramount Bowl in Horseheads, New York, where his career began.

"When I grew up, my dad owned a bowling center, Paramount Lanes in Horseheads," Shafer said. "When I grew up, my dad owned a bowling center, Paramount Lanes in Horseheads.  So of course, I bowled every day. I'd come home from school, I'd have to work a little bit, and then I would bowl.  But of course, watching the pro bowlers on Saturdays and seeing those guys on TV, I kind of patterned my game after the great Mark Roth.  I wanted to be Mark Roth. That kind of made me want to bowl."  

As Shafer works towards a PBA 50 win, he is also recovering from a myriad of injuries that set him back the last few years.

"I broke my foot, I had carpal tunnel, I had bad arthritis in the knee," Shafer listed. "So I've never been fully healthy during a PBA 50 season. I've bowled okay, but I haven't met my expectations. So hopefully this year, knock on wood somewhere, I'm healthy. Hopefully I'll get to win a title this year." 

The first PBA50 major is the USBC Masters in Las Vegas beginning on June 5th.