JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Gavin Murray had almost no choice but to be a bowler growing up, as he was practically raised at the lanes.
“I personally have been bowling since I was eight,” Murray said.
The 15-year-old has knocked over thousands of pins in his young life, first while living in Orlando, Florida, and now at his home base of Holiday Lanes in Johnson City.
Like many young athletes, Murray looked up to one person in particular as his hero.
“Definitely my dad,” Murray said. “I look up to him a lot in the sport of bowling.”
“He was on Junior Team USA when he was 21,” he said.
His father also played a big role in Murray’s siblings’ choice to take up the sport as well.
“We’re very competitive,” Murray said. “Now that I’m going into [my brother’s] age group, we’ll be a lot more competitive than we have been.”
Murray says the best bowler in the family can depend on the day.
“I have more perfect games than he does,” Murray said referring to his brother, “but he has an 800 series, so it kind of evens out.”
But as of this summer, Gavin has something that he believes sets him apart from the rest of the family.
“I personally think I’m the best because I’m the only one who has been on TV,” he said.
In July, Murray, along with three other teammates bowled dozens of games against the top bowling talent in the country for the Coastal South Eagles.
The team navigated and won the regional tournament, punching their ticket to the U-15 USA Bowling National Championships in Indianapolis.
“There were 15 games of qualifying and once you get all of the games done, you come back the next day and however you did, that’s where you get placed in the bracket,” Murray explained.
Murray and his teammates navigated the 16-team bracket with precision, eventually taking home a USA Bowling National Championship in convincing fashion.
“We just performed really well,” he said. “We never had a moment where we thought we were actually going to lose a match.”
They hardly did, earning a clean 3-0 sweep of their opponents in the championship matchup.
“It didn’t really sink in until a couple days after that we actually won,” he said.
By the time the USA Bowling competitions roll around again next year, Murray will be too old to compete in the U-15 Division, which is the oldest division to offer the national team competition. Murray will still be able to compete in the U-18 individual competition, if he chooses, going forward.
With his talent and accomplishments, Murray seems poised to continue his rise in the sport, perhaps even onto a collegiate team.
There’s just one problem.
“There’s not many aviation programs that have college bowling,” he said.
Despite his affinity for bowling, Murray has fallen in love with flying. He is a member of the Civil Air Patrol and took a liking to the skies almost instantly.
“We get five orientation flights and when I took my first one of those – I just knew,” he said.
The homeschooled Murray has his sights set on aviation school once he graduates high school. More than anything else, he hopes to one day become either a commercial or cargo pilot.
“I mean I’ll bowl some regional tournaments in my off time, but I probably won’t go professional,” he said of his bowling future. “I just like flying more.”
But bowling will always hold a special place in Murray’s life – and now – his trophy case, as well.