Bowling is a part of life for the Yaniz family. The love of the game, passed down through generations, is the glue that helps bond them. From parents Amado and Jackie — who met in a bowling alley — to sons Alex and Jeffrey, bowling is a constant.
“We have fun,” Jeffrey, 15, said. “That’s our sport, we bowl.”
Some of the Yaniz children’s earliest memories have taken place in a bowling alley. When he was “very young,” Alex, 16, remembers playing in his first league.
So does Jeffrey.
Their parents, both high-level amateur players, have competed in tournaments around the country. Many times Alex and Jeffrey have gone along for the ride. Alex and Jeffrey have even played alongside their parents in mixed events. Alex has fond memories of teaming up with his dad at the 2007 Storm mixed national tournament in Reno, Nev. — the Mecca of professional bowling in the United States.
“People from mostly every state were there,” he said. “I was paired up with my dad and my mom was paired with my younger brother. It was a hard event, I was very young at the time. I mostly went for the experience.”
The pair’s parents have never been shy about encouraging their kids to pursue the game. By the time he was 11 years old, Alex committed to becoming a top youth bowler. Shortly after, Jeffrey committed as well.
“I took bowling as a fun thing for a while,” Alex said. “My dad was pushing me to get back into leagues and tournaments.”
In a relatively short amount of time, Alex’s scores steadily improved. With his play in weekend leagues, Alex quickly made a name for himself in the local bowling scene. At 13, he had the second-highest average in an under-20 league at Bird Bowl in Miami. By 16, Alex had twice been named the youth bowler of the year by the Greater Miami Bowling Association.
Alex has qualified for a number of prestigious youth tournaments, including the Junior Gold Championship in Indianapolis. The one tournament Alex, a sophomore at Miami Christian, has not been able to play in has been the high school state final in Orlando.
The bowling program is in its infant state at Miami Christian. The school added the sport when Alex’s parents enrolled him as a freshman. For it’s inaugural season, Miami Christian was barred from the postseason. Only a few students turned out for the team. Even though the team was thin, Alex was successful winning the Youth Fair tournament with a 254 high-game and a 692 series score.
This year, turnout was up, with six players making the final cut. With the support of the administration and the school’s athletic director, bowling is starting to grow at the school. Alex’s father was brought in to be the team’s new coach.
“They’ve only been playing for a few weeks,” he said. “You can tell they already have the basics down.”
During the first week of practice, Amado mainly focused on the basics. Many of the Victors’ new players had never been coached and were still raw to bowling. Amado has set about to teach the players how to properly shoot the ball down the lane and the importance of foot work. Alex has been a big help to his dad. With his extensive tournament experience, Alex has been able to explain to his teammates how to prepare for their schedule. Alex has also been instrumental in helping his teammates deal with their nerves before matches.
“Against Belen they were a little nervous,” he said. “We all get nervous at times. I’ve been bowling for the past 9 years or so. It’s always good to be excited and nervous at the same time.”
Miami Christian received a third Yaniz to the team when younger brother Jeffrey was enrolled in the school. The three are focused on making a Miami Christian contender this postseason. With the help of some sibling rivalry for motivation, Jeffrey plans on surpassing Alex’s 204 average one day. The younger Yaniz trails his brother with a 149 average but is determined narrow the gap.
“I look up to [Alex]. He’s a pretty good bowler,” Jeffrey said. “I hope to beat his high score. Everyday I get better. He’s trying for me not to beat him.”