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Ryan junior rolls to state championship

Joey McNally credits his dad for helping him win the state bowling championship. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

When Joey McNally’s family took a trip to Nashville, they were going for a huge celebration.

McNally is a junior at Archbishop Ryan High School, and most of his aunts and uncles and cousins were celebrating one of the cousin’s 21st birthday in Music City.

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Instead, they got news that was music to their ears.

While they were busy having fun, McNalley was busy making history.

The Raider spun 1,344 in his five games at the state tournament. 

In the finals, McNally defeated Garden Spot bowler Gavin Courtney 235-226 at the  Pennsylvania State High School Bowling Championships at Leisure Lanes in Mountville.

The win was even more special because in an earlier match against his foe, Courtney spun a perfect game to defeat McNally.

This time, it was all McNally! 

“I was a little nervous definitely, but I had two years under my belt, so I knew what it was going to be like (at states),” McNally said. “I knew what it’s like. So there’s always the initial nerves and stuff, but once I settled in, it went away and I was ready.”

In order to win, you have to make the final five. That was initially McNally’s goal. But once he got there, he just kept going.

“Honestly, making the final five was unimaginable,” McNally said. “I was ecstatic. I didn’t think I’d get to states, let alone be in the final five. And just getting there was for me. But to win it, it was the best day.”

Such a great feeling that even after he secured the win, even after it was all over, it took some time for even him to believe it.

“When I won, I didn’t realize it really,” he said. “It didn’t sink in yet. I had no idea until I went up to hug my dad, and it settled in. Happiest moments I’ve had in my life. I was just hugging my dad because I won. It was very special to me, all the moments I have, I love to share this with him. I put in the work, I won, but he’s the reason I got there in the first place.”

Bowling is something that Joey and his father Joe love doing together. 

The pin connection doesn’t end there.

Joe’s father, same name, also loved to bowl.

And the love of the sport was also passed on to Joey’s sister Tiffany, who also bowled at Ryan and is now starring on the Holy Family University bowling team.

The day was certainly special for Joey, but it might have been even more special for dad, who was front and center coaching his son.

“It was one of the greatest moments of my life, honestly,” Joe said. “The poise he showed was unbelievable with that amount of pressure on him at that time. 

“The boy he bowled in the championship two weeks earlier bowled a perfect game. He knew he had to bowl his best game and like I said, it was tight the whole game and he showed a lot of poise, he didn’t flinch.”

He’s learned from the best.

“I love bowling against him because he’s a really good bowler,” Joey said of squaring off with dad. “He won’t admit it, but he’s really, really good. Very consistent, best one I’ve versed. My sister is pretty good, too, actually she’s been great lately. She’s bowling 200s and her series is high now. She’s really good and always working to get better.”

That’s something that runs in the family.

Coach Joe and other coaches from the school have worked hard in helping the Ryan bowling team improve, but it’s been the Raiders themselves who were putting in all the work.

They had fun, but they were there to get better, and they did just that.

“The boys wanted to be better,” coach said. “They spent two to three times a week with me and there were other guys there, too. We all coached and helped. And they turned that from a team that really wasn’t that good and they worked themselves into being better.”

Not only did the Raiders improve as a team, but they had the best bowler in the state.

But Joey admits he didn’t do it alone. Not even close.

In his last victory, he had the backing of fellow PCL bowlers Sean Elitz, of Father Judge, and Matt Coppla, from Conwell-Egan. 

“They were cheering him on,” Joe said. “It was special. They came down and were cheering him on. The Catholic League guys were right there.”

He also credits his other supporters, which starts and ends with his mom, who makes as many of the games as she can. She’ll be front and center when he bowls at nationals, which will also be in Lancaster, in June.

“My Aunt Patty, she supports me, comes out to my game, and Zach Taub,” Joey said. “They just came to games and would support me to see me bowl. And when I’m down, Aunt Patty would support me, tell me I’m doing great. Zach is a bowler. He knows things that can help. 

“My whole family. My mom is the biggest supporter I have. And Tiffany. Also, my Aunt Kathy Lalli and Colleen Morta are really big supporters. I couldn’t have done it without any of my family.

“I want to give a shoutout to everyone who supported me, my family, my bowling family, Dan Wang and Jim Frank, they were coaches, they helped me out. I won this, but so many people helped me do this. I don’t do this without them.” 

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