Amanda Stegall was once hesitant about competing athletically – not because she wasn’t intrigued, but for safety reasons. Amanda, who has cerebral palsy, is appreciative of a selection of non-contact sports to remain active.
“She’ll try anything now,” said her grandmother, Linda, a coach for Special Olympics Santa Clarita.
Amanda, 25, participates in bocce in the spring and bowling in the fall. Linda said watching Amanda bowl is when she noticed her “really start to shine.”
“[She] knew that she can do something that other people can’t,” Linda added.
Like any activity, though, it took practice and patience. The latter wasn’t always easy for Amanda, who has been competing for 17 years.
She started at 9 years old and remembers being frustrated to the point of being angry with her performance. Now, Amanda will jokingly blame the lane when she happens to struggle with a frame. That’s just the competitor in Amanda, wanting to make each roll better than the last.
Through the ups and downs, Amanda will still tell you that bowling is her favorite sport. Her persistence paid off with a first-place performance at the 2016 Tri-Valley regional bowling competition, and recently she finished third in her division at the 2017 Fall Games.
Aside from the competitive aspect, Linda said Special Olympics Southern California has helped Amanda grow and function.
“She’s just so much better since she’s been with Special Olympics, with straightening her muscles and all that,” Linda said.
Special Olympics Southern California has helped Linda, too. Before Amanda came along, she admits that she was unaware of struggles of individuals with intellectual disabilities. The family’s involvement has given Linda a whole new perspective.
She also appreciates seeing younger volunteers, particularly teenagers without intellectual disabilities, take the time to interact and form connections with the athletes.
“I think it’s wonderful because they start learning the difference in people… and they’re still people,” Linda said.
“It’s amazing how wonderful [the athletes] are and how affectionate they are.”