SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On a Tuesday afternoon in April, high school bowlers filled the seats at Enterprise Lanes in Springfield as part of the Show Me Bowling program.
The competition features schools and Bowlers from all across the Ozarks, but of all the names up on the screens one stands out from the rest: Spencer Robarge.
“I really enjoy the imperfections of it,” Robarge said of his chose to become a bowler. “It’s an imperfect game and no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to be perfect at it.”
But Robarge has been terrorizing pins since he was a little kid, motivated by his older brother Blake Demore who became a professional bowler.
Now at the age of 18 with Demore serving as his High School Head Coach at Kickapoo, Robarge is getting closer and closer to that unreachable bar of perfection.
Just ask Cheryl Delashmit, who’s been running the high school program for seven years, if she’s ever seen someone better than Robarge.
“No I have not,” Delashmit said. “He used to come when I bowled league and tell me how I needed to adjust my feet so I can bowl.”
But just a couple weeks ago, Spencer Robarge of Kickapoo High School was lacing up his shoes under much brighter lights of Reno, Nevada at the Masters.
“It was just really awesome to be a part of that and to make a cut in such a difficult tournament,” Robarge said.
But he did far more than just make the cut to the final bracket as he cut down not one, but two professional opponents en route to a third-place finish.
“I was really hoping to make the first cut,” Robarge said. “I kind of got a little bit fortunate the first couple of rounds. I had a couple of sets shot at me that weren’t those bowlers best sets.”
And while Robarge climbed the stepladder, he wasn’t alone – as his mom and brother cheered from outside the bowling bubble in the hotel room.
“To experience it was very, very cool because I didn’t book my plane ticket until 10:45 that night, the night before. I’ve got to go,” Demore told himself. “I can’t sit here and watch this on TV. I’ve got to at least be with my Mom and keep her comforted through the whole process because we were nervous as could be – and we weren’t even bowling.”
“I could look out the hotel window and see the national bowling stadium and know that he was in there,” Spencer’s mother Susan said. “I just couldn’t be in there. Obviously he did fine without me.”
Now, fresh off his semifinal Masters debut – Robarge is back in Springfield, back his family, and back amongst fellow high schoolers.
But with just one high school tournament left and a powerhouse program in Wichita State waiting on the other side, it may not be long until Robarge isn’t just back with the pros – he’s one of them.
“Hopefully,” Robarge said. “This week was really helpful in showing me that I can do it. It’s just a matter of if that’s the path that I choose.”