Athletes Roll Strikes Against Disabilities At Special Olympics Bowling Tournament
The Special Olympics give children and adults with disabilities a chance to compete against each other in a number of sports worldwide. Hundreds of athletes were at Jack’s House Bowling Alley in Brainerd today for the statewide Special Olympics Bowling Tournament.
“It’s all about promoting inclusion,” Jake Krier, Area 11 Special Olympics Program Manager, said. “It’s a great thing we got going here.”
Students from schools all across Central Minnesota were knocking down pins and having fun competing in the Minnesota Special Olympics Bowling Tournament.
“This is their varsity team,” Krier, said. “This is a great opportunity for them to compete, and they can prove that it doesn’t matter if you have a disability or not, we want to include you and make sure that you can compete and show off your skills.”
It’s a unified bowling tournament, meaning that athletes with disabilities are partnered with an athlete without a disability, also known as a unified partner, and they compete as a team.
“To have those connections and friendships, it goes beyond just competing at the bowling alley or on the field, it’s in the schools, too,” Krier said. “You get to see that inclusion movement.”
“They get to compete in these sports and then they come back to school, and they become friends and you see them high-fiving in the hall,” Bryan Syrstad, Crosby-Ironton’s Special Olympics Coordinator, said.
“It’s so inspiring,” Emma Sanford, a unified partner, said. “It makes you feel very happy for them that they get to do this.”
Over 4,000 athletes are competing across Minnesota in the bowling tournament, and this is something the athletes look forward to all year.
“It is really fun and I love being in Special Olympics,” Amber Pierson, an athlete from Crosby-Ironton, said.
“It’s a lot of fun to be here and see all the players from other schools, and compete against them, so it’s a lot of fun,” Will Peterson, an athlete from Menahga, said.
Besides just having fun, the athletes learn a little bit about each sport they compete in.
“We are trying to teach them the skills of bowling and the etiquette,” Syrstad said. “Also, we have fun and compete, and just have a good time because these events are a big part of their school year and they really look forward to this.”
It was a special day at Jack’s House Bowling Alley as these athletes were striking out the misconceptions about disabilities.
Tomorrow is the last day of competition with athletes bowling from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. in Brainerd.