Reaching for the Summit


Hit your mark, follow through, and keep going. In bowling and in life, the principles are much the same. And Rjani Kaya (pronounced Ranny and Ki-yuh) should know. At school, a bowling tournament, home, church or wherever she may be, Rjani focuses on good goals and keeps going until they’re accomplished.

How do lessons learned from bowling help you personally? When I step up to bowl, I first focus on floor markers to guide my steps before I release my ball. I’m more likely to hit my target zone if I first focus on what’s closest to me. In my personal life, I’m very close to family, especially my parents, Ransom and Nani. I have a rich heritage and descend from Norwegian, Japanese, and Hawaiian ancestors. When my Grandma Johnson was alive, she taught me this Hawaiian saying, “Kulia i ka Nu‘u.” It means “Reach for the Summit.” I can do this when I first focus on family and the gospel.

Bowling also teaches you to “follow through and keep going.” How has this helped you to overcome challenges? Before I release my bowling ball, I must keep my body in proper alignment, especially my arm, hand, and wrist. Even a slight turn of the wrist can send the ball off course. This is also true for my spiritual and personal growth.

When I experienced ongoing bullying from a peer, I was troubled for a time. I sought advice and comfort from my parents and seminary teacher and through studying the prophet’s counsel and the scriptures. The bully eventually moved away, and I was able to “course correct” by remembering my divine worth.

Why is it important to “keep going”? You can always achieve more with hard work, and enduring is part of becoming perfect like Heavenly Father. I set personal goals. My high score in bowling is 288, but I’d like to bowl a perfect 300. I practice three to four days a week to prepare for tournaments. Through my winnings I’ve already earned enough bowling scholarships to pay for my first year of college.

My personal goals focus on my spiritual growth as well. As a member of the Lord’s true Church, I strive to do my best. I try to improve every day.

Name: Rjani Kaya

Age: 15

Hometown: Nampa, Idaho

Major Accomplishments: Highest scratch game 288. USBC Junior Gold member. 2010 Idaho Regional Teen Master National Girls’ Division, first-place qualifier. 2008–2010 finalist for the National Teen Masters Tournament. First chair violinist at Vallivue High School. Honor student.

Photograph by Kerry Smith