Bowling is one of Sean Lopez’s favorite things to do.
And there was a time when he thought he would never be able to do it again.
Lopez, a senior at Archbishop Ryan High School, suffers from achondroplasia dwarfism, and because of it, he developed bow legs.
The condition became a problem when he was younger, but some treatment gave him a temporary cure. However, when he was a freshman at Ryan, it was decided he had to undergo surgery that included breaking both his legs and resetting them straight. If he didn’t have the procedure, it could have left him unable to walk.
“It wasn’t too painful, I had great doctors and I was on a lot of medicine,” said Lopez, who had the surgery shortly after the new year and missed the rest of the school year. “I go to a doctor in Delaware, duPont, the best orthopedic hospital in the country.”
He had no trouble making the grade as a student. He had a tutor help him stay on track to graduate, but bowling was the problem.
He wore braces, and he tried to bowl while he was recuperating, but it didn’t go too well.
“I was bad, said Lopez, who lives in Morrell and grew up in Chalfont. “I didn’t want to do it again. I couldn’t do it.”
But he never gave up.
And this year, he was once again one of the top bowlers in the Catholic League, and in the process led the Raiders to the Catholic League championship match. There, despite Lopez rolling a 593 series, Ryan fell to Roman.
He then went on to finish fourth in the All-Catholic match, which put him on the First Team for the second straight year.
And it all started when he was 4.
“I was in Florida with (my grandfather), and his friend owned a bowling alley,” Lopez said. “He took me bowling, and I loved it, so he bought me a ball. I remember it.
“I think I love bowling a lot because it’s something I can do well. I love all sports, but because I’m only 4-foot-3, I can’t play football or basketball or baseball. I played sports growing up, but in high school, I can’t really do it. But I can bowl.”
Boy, can he.
This year, he averaged 180 a game, and he saved his best bowling for when it mattered most, in the championship and the All-Catholic meet.
“We had a really good team, and I think I do better when it’s a bigger (match),” Lopez said. “When we would bowl teams we knew we could win, I tried, I just didn’t do as well. I love the pressure. I love to bowl under pressure.”
Bowling is one thing Lopez is known for, but he’s also known for being very popular at the school.
During a recent assembly during the school’s color games (think talent show), the entire school started a “Sean Lopez” chant to encourage him before the Catholic League championship.
And in the fall, he was selected homecoming king.
“That was great,” Lopez said. “I can’t even describe it. I was so great. I got to go on the field at the game against Judge, and so many people were there. We won, and I was homecoming king.”
Lopez’s days bowing at Ryan are over, but he still wants to continue to play the sport. Next year, he’s headed to Holy Family, and although the university doesn’t have a bowling team, he’s hoping he can change that.
“I want to start a bowling team there,” Lopez said. “I’ll see if I can get some people who are interested in it and then maybe we can just bowl and then get a team. Hopefully, we’ll get a team then.”
No matter what happens with the sport, he’ll also be preparing for something else he loves to do. He intends on studying business and to use that to help his ultimate goal.
“I really want to own my own restaurant,” Lopez said. “I started cooking recently and I’m pretty good. My specialty? Chicken parm. I also make a good steak.
“I started cooking because there were times when my parents weren’t home and I didn’t want to just heat up a frozen dinner. I learned how to cook. I’m pretty good and I love doing it.”
Lopez still has some things to look forward to at Ryan.
He still has his prom, which he is excited about, and he also has graduation, which will be bittersweet.
Ryan turned out to be the perfect place for Lopez. It suited him bowling-wise, educationally and socially.
He’ll miss it, but he couldn’t be happier he went there.
“Ryan is great, I love everything about it,” Lopez said. “The teachers, my friends, bowling. I didn’t know how much I would love it.”