By David Fong
TROY — As Bryce Massingill stood on the precipice of perfection, the magnitude of the moment began to wash over his teenage body.
“About the eighth or ninth frame, I started to realize what was going on,” said the Troy Junior High School seventh grader, who recently bowled his first perfect game at Royal Z Lanes in Wilmington as part of a Pepsi District 5 qualifier. “My heart started to beat a little faster. I just tried to make it like a normal shot, but I was really nervous.”
Turns out his dad, Jason — a longtime bowler himself who has recorded a number of 300 rounds throughout his own bowling career — was even more nervous than his son.
“I’ve been bowling since I could walk,” Jason said. “I grew up at the Troy Bowl, but I didn’t bowl my first perfect game until I was probably 25 or 26. I think I was way more nervous than him. He seemed so cool and so calm about it. I, on the other hand, was wearing the soles off my shoes pacing around the alley.”
Turns out dad had nothing to worry about as, on his third throw of the 10th frame — with the perfect game hanging in the balance — Bryce uncorked his best ball of the day.
“When it was halfway down the lane, I knew it was a good,” Bryce said. “It was a good ball. I had my best throw in the 10th frame.”
When all 10 pins fell, giving Massingill the first perfect game of his career, Bedlam ensued.
“It was pretty cool,” he said. “Everyone was cheering for me. It felt great, especially to be able to do at only being 13. It’s a pretty hard thing to do. I know a lot of bowlers are a lot older than I am when they get their first perfect game.”
Not only was Massingill able to record his first perfect game at Royal Z Lanes, but since it was a district qualifier, it also earned him a spot in the state competition in May. As good as he is in bowling, however, that’s far from his only athletic endeavor. He’s also one of the top midget race car drivers in the area, plays basketball, golf and baseball.
There are few empty nights on the calendar in the Massingill household, as his younger sister, Baylie, a fourth grader, plays soccer, softball and is a bowler.
“Every night, we are taking the kids somewhere,” Jason said. “A lot of times my wife is taking one of our kids somewhere, while I’m taking the other to a different practice.”
That sports are a big part of the Massingills’ lives should come as little surprise to anyone. In the 1990s, dad Jason was a three-sport athlete at Troy, including the starting quarterback for the football team, while mom Megan is one of the top pitcher in Troy softball history.
Bryce does realize that as he gets older, the sports become more competitive and the seasons begin to overlap more and more, he’ll likely have to give up at least one or two of his athletic endeavors. For now, however, he’s just having fun being a kid, doing what he loves.
“I love doing all of them,” he said.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong