Five local Special Olympians are still celebrating their recent gold medal performance in the five-pin bowling competition at the Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games in St. Albert late last month.
Bowlers Jayden Fetterly, Brenden Jones, Christian Skelly, Evan Clowes and Luke Petersen combined to bowl 220 pins over average, recording 1,999 points across three games to bring home the hardware to Airdrie.
“They did very well, and they are rightly very proud of their accomplishments,” said the team’s coach Sandra Foreman.
And not only did the team win gold, but four out of five of the Airdrie bowlers also won individual medals in their divisions, collecting three silver (for Fetterly, Skelly and Clowes) and one bronze (for Petersen).
“We had two days of competition,” explained Foreman. “The first day was three games, and that was the team competition where the won their gold medal. And then the second day was the individual competition.”
Foreman has been coaching Special Olympics in Airdrie for the past 10 years in various sports. For Foreman, there is a personal connection to the organization.
“My daughter started participating in Special Olympics a couple years before I started coaching,” she recalled. “That was my personal connection with it. Before then, we really didn’t know that Special Olympics had a program which was running in Airdrie.
“She (my daughter) brought a sheet home from school, and I said, ‘This looks interesting. Want to try it out?’ She said yes, and then she was into everything. And it’s just been Special Olympics for us ever since.”
Foreman said coaching five-pin bowling is more about facilitating than actively teaching the athletes. Several local residents with differential needs meet Monday nights at Shamrock Lanes to to knock over a few pins, but only a few are looking for tips and pointers to meet the challenge of competition.
“My job is to facilitate what they need,” she explained. “Generally, on a regular Monday night, the need is just to bowl and have fun. If anyone actually asks for some coaching, in terms of whether they want to improve this or that– then, yeah, then I might mention something to improve.
“At a competition basically what you are doing is cheering them on, because at a competition if you see something that will improve a bowler’s technique – then is not the time to be working on it.”
Foreman said for both her and local athletes like Fetterly, Jones, Skelly, Clowes, and Petersen, taking part in the sport is its own reward.
“It provides fulfillment,” she concluded. “It is good to see the athletes doing well and making improvements where they want to. It’s great for socializing, and gaining the types of things most people do in terms of sports.”
Foreman is hopeful her winning team will be chosen for the National Special Olympic Games in Calgary next year, but said there are 10 teams which have qualified.
Of those 10 teams, Special Olympics draws from a hat to determine who will go to Calgary.
“So fingers crossed,” she said.