The first time Ethan Barbee picked up a bowling ball, his father, Ted, was there. When he picks up a ball for his first collegiate competition, his dad will be there, too. That’s life when your dad is also your coach.
Barbee, a senior at Ozark High School, has signed to bowl collegiately for Drury University.
“He taught me how to bowl when I was young and once I got into high school, I started realizing that I could use this as a way to help me in college,” Ethan said. “This last year was the year I really learned this was something I could use ahead of me and it was a really good thing to help me get to college. I knew Drury was where my father was working as well, so I knew it would be a great place to go, with my family being nearby and also me being able to do something I’ve loved to do since I was young.”
Bowling is in the Barbee family’s blood. Ethan estimates he’s been bowling since kindergarten, and even then he had a sense it was part of his family’s identity.
“When I started, I knew it was something my parents had done for a long time,” Ethan said. “My father has bowled since I don’t know when - back before I was born. He’s now a very well-known bowler. He can bowl against a lot of the good PBA bowlers.”
Ethan is pretty good himself, with a high game of 275 and a high series of 712. He’ll take that talent to a Drury program that is entering its third year.
“We’re very proud to have Ethan join the program,” Larry Hughes, who oversees Drury bowling and coaches the women’s team, said. “I’ve known Ethan for seven or eight years, having bowled with his dad in some leagues. He has remarkable character, great talent and he’s also a wonderful student. We’re not only happy to have him at Drury for the bowling program, but also on campus to help the campus community. He’ll be a big asset there.”
Barbee estimates he’s at the lanes 10-15 times per month during the high school season. In college, it could be closer to 20. That’s on top of the academic work he’ll be doing as a student at Drury. He plans on getting into meteorology.
“I’m probably going to study a lot of chemistry and biology while I’m at Drury,” he said. “Texas A&M is interested in me going there for a meteorological degree. I’ll probably get a lot of my minor classes out of the way at Drury, then major at meteorology at Texas A&M.”
After that, Barbee — who also participated in JROTC at Ozark — hopes to use that knowledge to serve his country.
“I plan on getting myself fit again and joining the military after college,” he said. “Once I do that, I’m going to join the Air Force and become an officer.”
Barbee will not only be familiar with his coach once he gets to Drury. He’ll also team up with friend Matt Harper, from Parkivew. The graduating senior has also committed to bowl for the Panthers. Friend Jenna Evans, from Nixa, will be bowling for the women’s team.
“A lot of us in this area are a close, tight-knit family,” Barbee said. “(Harper and I) know each other very well. A lot of us seniors (in southwest Missouri) know each other and we’re all going to Drury, so it’s going to be a nice transition for us. We’ll have a nice bond with each other.”