September 20, 2009

The Ninos go Bowling

The Special Olympics Bowling season has started!!!

Sometimes, I feel we define ourselves by the sports season we have entered. Sports give Alex a clear goal - something she can understand and relate to on her own terms. It is an event in her life that she can plan for - a time when she is surrounded by her peers. Sports is something where she is successful and confident. It is impossible to underestimate the power of sports in Alex's life.

A local bowling alley has donated the lanes and the equipment for the kids. However, when you live in rural Colorado, local means 45 minutes away. So every Saturday, for at least the next four weeks, I will be leaving the house at 9:15 and returning at 1:00. I do not mean to sound like I am complaining - Courtney usually handles these practices and volunteers with the coaches. However, this year - she is a senior in High School and beside having a job on weekends she is preparing college applications. So I have opted to do the transporting - and we do take another athlete. John and Courtney - beware -I am saving my tokens for the ski season.

Alex does not let me go in the bowing alley with her. In situations were she is comfortable she is very independent. We are working on the other type of situations - that would include all three of my children. I drop her off and run errands - something that is a bit difficult to do 15 miles from any store - but I manage.

Since I have not been in the bowling alley yet - I only know this second hand - there are three new athletes on the team. These kids are wheel chair athletes - and bowling is a great sport for them. I love it when Cammi and Paul are able to get more athletes on the team - this is such a great group of kids. I know by the end of the season they will all have bonded and become a loyal and caring team.

There are no bumpers allowed in Olympic competition, but there are adaptions for the athletes that need them. The most common is a wire ramp the kids will set up and roll the ball down. The athlete is charged with aiming the ramp and pushing the ball at whatever speed they deem appropriate. This is almost always very successful. Can you imagine the pride a wheel chair athlete feels when bowling a strike? - it is unbelievable.

Alex is one of those kids that always gets one strike per game - and she remembers the score of every game she has ever bowled. Well that is a slight exaggeration - she remembers her highest score ever - 79 and her most recent scores - 61 and 65. Hate to say - but on a good day -she is better than me. I am okay with that - not sure I want to invest the time and money to get better at this sport.

The regional competitions are in three weeks, followed by the States a couple of weeks later. We will opt out of States - but since it is a qualifier for the Nationals we are hoping some of the other athletes may want to go. Therefore, I am not sure when bowling season will be officially over. I know that as much as I wish I could keep my Saturdays open - I will miss the excitement of Alex's Saturday mornings and the happiness on her face when I pick her up.

But lucky for us -High School basketball and Special Olympics Skiing start soon after. Maybe with all that exercise she will finally get that i-pod touch!

I close with the Special Olympics oath:

"Let me win, but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt".

Never, ever, will you see such a dedicated and proud group of athletes say these words as an Olympic athlete.

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