Every November, for the last four years, we have trucked off to Denver for the State Special Olympic Bowling Games. I say trucked, as we need to cross two 11,000 high mountain passes on Highway 70 to get to Denver and these same two to get home. The weather changes quickly and often we do not know if the road is closed due to snow, ice or an accident, and we plan accordingly. This year was no exception and we ended up staying an extra night in Denver.
Last year our friends Darlene and Tim from Crested Butte came to watch Alex. I chronicled this visit last year describing how different Alex is when her friends come to watch. We have noticed for a long time that Alex prefers performing to competing. This means her bowling scores increase when she has fans, as does her demeanor and her excitement level.
This year we loaded the audience and thanks to our friends Kim, Molly, JJ and Ben who came to cheer on Alex. Coincidentally enough – or should I say - not coincidently enough, Alex had her best tournament bowling scores ever – 117, 84 and 115.
Each of these games involved strikes and spares that only occurred when Alex knew her fans were watching. This silver medal performance was met with pride and elation as opposed to the poor sportsmanship that has characterized Alex’s second place winnings in the past.
I am quite impressed, Alex scored on demand. How was it that Alex bowled a strike on the last frame of the last game when she saw JJ and Ben arrived? How was it that when Molly arrived she upped her score and when Kim walked in the strikes reappeared?
To me, this shows a level of focus and determination that even professional athletes cannot always muster. How can my sweet 4’10” slightly overweight daughter with down syndrome outperform million dollar athletes?
I will venture an educated guess – it is the squeals of glee, the hugs and the high fives Alex shares with each and every friend and competitor after each frame that pushed Alex to focus for the next frame.
For Alex, she knows her friends are there to see her, and she does not want to disappoint. She guarantees a good show and she delivers. This is the performer in Alex, to her not only is this competition it is a performance. It sure is a different way to look at competition but it works for Alex. Now isn’t that a lesson all professional athletes could learn?
Me, I’m just happy that Alex was happy, proud and popular for four hours one windy Saturday morning.