Bowling team rolls on

Linda Dillman

Staff Writer

Groveport Special Olympics bowling team member Nick Zungri, 16, from Canal Winchester, hones his skills at Eastland Lanes during an Oct. 6 practice session in preparation for an upcoming state competition.
Groveport Special Olympics bowling team member Nick Zungri, 16, from Canal Winchester, hones his skills at Eastland Lanes during an Oct. 6 practice session in preparation for an upcoming state competition.

What does it take to be a bowler?

Just ask Special Olympic participants and their parents and you will get various answers from individuals whose disabilities are not holding them back from enjoying the sport.

Applause erupted frequently from the end of the Eastland Lanes bowling alley on Oct. 6 as the more than two dozen young bowlers prepared for a state-level championship later this month.

Guided by Penny Hilty and her daughter, Cassandra, who are co-coordinators, the 13-member Special Olympics bowling team draws participants from throughout Canal Winchester, Groveport, and the local area. The team qualified on Sept. 24 for the state contest at Holiday Lanes in Columbus on Oct. 22.

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic type sports for intellectually disabled individuals.

Penny Hilty said the team began two years ago with six athletes and more than doubled this year. Competitors are ages eight and older and have physical or intellectual disabilities. In addition to the bowling season – which runs from August through October – Groveport/Canal Winchester Special Olympians also participate in volleyball and swimming.

“We’re thinking about starting track and field in the spring,” said Hilty. “We have around 30 individuals total in all of the sports. Eastland Lanes is our home, along with the Groveport Rec Center where we practice volleyball and swimming.”

While the local team currently offers three sports, Hilty said some other groups participate in as many as 14 sports, including equestrian. In addition to the Special Olympics Summer Games at Ohio State University, there are also Special Olympics Winter Games.

“They want to compete,” said Hilty in regard to the members of her group. “They want the medals and they love pictures. When you go to OSU and see ones who’ve never been there before, and they get a medal for the first time, it’s amazing.”

During a recent practice session, Nathan Rearick, a 10-year-old who attends Sedalia Elementary, bowled a strike with the assistance of his father, Kevin. Canal Winchester resident Carol Note’s grandson, Benjamin Zerbe, 15, who is a Canal Winchester Middle School student and is  on the school’s track team, is also a Special Olympics bowling team member.
Zerbe said bowling is his favorite sport and Note lauds Hilty for her organizational skills, time and devotion in running the local organization.

“She is amazing,” said Note.

Hilty’s daughter, Claire, 17, is a swimmer and a bowler.

“I like bowling because it makes me feel important and just because of my disability, it doesn’t mean that I can’t do sports,” said Claire. “I enjoy cheering on my teammates and talking to people.”

Coach Tina Garriott, who also works in special needs as a job coach, saw an ad in the Southeast Messenger for a team coach.

“My father brought me here (Eastland Lanes) when I was young, so I know a little about the sport,” said Garriott. “As a job coach, I thought I could put the two together. I’ve seen tremendous improvement in them and in their team spirit. I’ve also seen improvements in rule following and turn taking. This is a neater aspect of socialization when everybody is competing.”

For information contact coordinators Penny and Cassandra Hilty at groveportspecialolympics@gmail.com or at (614) 395-8992 or 395-6640. Donations may be sent to Groveport Special Olympics, P.O. Box 296, Groveport, OH 43125.

Previous articleParticipation and costs are up for JA music programs
Next articleQuick fix for sewer line break; plus Groveport City Council news

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.