Monday, July 1, 2013

Throwback Post: Strike, Spare, Gutter Ball!

*Throwback Post #8*

My friend Emily, who is an SLP in Kirksville, Missouri in the local school system, has been helping out by coaching basketball and softball during her short time in the district. My other friend, Jamille, resides in Atlanta, Georgia, and has spent tons of time at the local bowling alleys, sports fields, and other sporting venues.

Now these two lovely ladies are not working with mainstream sporting teams; they are working with the Special Olympics. I've always admired those that work with this outstanding and uplifting organization. After this past weekend, I can finally say that I as well have helped with a Special Olympics event.

Saturday, for our service project, half of us went up to Greenacres (about 25 minutes north of Boynton Beach) to assist with the running of the Special Olympics Bowling event. It was an all day event that was full of smiles, laughs, and good times. In the morning session, it was time for the adults to don the sexy bowling shoes, strap on their writs guards, and knock down as many pins as they could.

On my lane, I had three lovely ladies who really brightened my day with their determination and desire to do the best that they could. One of them was deaf and it was quite interesting coming up with signs that we both understood to communicate with. On one of her balls, she managed to get a strike and was thrilled (as she should be). We created a little "strike dance" and her beaming face left a lasting impression on me for a lifetime.

After a rousing morning session, it was time to welcome the school-aged children to the lanes, as it was their turn to knock 'em down. I only had one of my girls show up, but she was such a joy. Her mom and sister stood on the edge of the carpeted area (where parents and coaches were told to watch the event from) and supported her every time she got up to bowl. It was so amazing to see their support and encouragement, even when the ball migrated into the gutter. Too bad not all of the parents followed this model...

The lane next to ours was manned by my friends Phetsada, Jen, and Teradee. They had 6 girls which were all super sweet. However, they also had two parents who were utterly horrible. Every little thing that went wrong, these parents let them know about it. There were quite a few times that the ball would get stuck halfway down the gutter and it would register a gutterball for the next bowler who hadn't even gone yet. Now, Phetsada, Jen, and Teradee are not avid or regular bowlers. Their understanding of the game is pretty limited beyond the "try to knock down as many pins as possible" aspect.

The bantering and unnecessary bad talk really ruined the day for all of those within earshot. It was super frustrating to try and fix the scoring errors, keep the bowlers calm and motivated, and satisfy the needs of the parents. Since I only had one bowler on my lane, I would jump over to help them out when things went awry. It was a bit disappointing to see the parents so worried about the scoring and not about the actual performance of their children.

Despite the parental bumps and bruises, it was such a fulfilling day filled with new romances (an 11-year old girl who threatened anyone that came close/talked/hugged/walked by me because I was hers and no one else's - adorable), plenty of smiles, and unforgettable memories. This experience has made me want to volunteer with the Special Olympics once I finally decide to settle down somewhere, but who knows when that will be!

In honor of all of those that we worked with this weekend, a group of us will be donning some special shoes, fitting our fingers into the best-fitting holes, and trying our best to keep our balls out of the gutter. It's bowling time!

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