By Alexandra Dickens
Volunteers, athletes, families, and friends came out to Brunswick Zone Deer Creek Lanes in Rancho Cucamonga last Saturday for the Inland Empire bowling competition. The majority of the more than 430 athletes had one goal in mind: “To bring home the gold,” said SOSC Global Messenger Joe Hreish. This event was free to the public, but the enthusiasm fans brought was priceless.
This is the second year bowling has had its own season in the summer, traditionally held just in the fall. Based on the excitement on display, it was clear bowling is an athlete favorite.
“I’ve been an SOSC athlete for four years and this is my first bowling competition. Some athletes and coaches told me to come bowl, and I’m beginning to love it. It’s awesome meeting people from different regions and branches. From the Inland Empire to San Diego. Look how many people are here to see what we do best, compete,” Joe said.
Although there were medals for gold, silver, and bronze, as well as ribbons, every athlete left feeling like a winner. Athletes were setting personal records throughout the day and having an amazing time with their team. Efren Vega, in particular, had a stand out performance, bowling four strikes in a row at one point.
“That made me so happy, it was my first time ever doing that. My goal today is to get a (cumulative) score of 300 or more,” said Efren, who later that day took home a gold medal for the Norco-Corona Dragons.
For some, the competition wasn’t just about personal records and medals. Garden Grove coach Jim Beyer said bowling is a bonding experience for him and his son. Jim has the unique opportunity to not only play the role of dad to his son, but also coach.
“This is my fifth or sixth year out here. Last weekend was so amazing for me. My son Devon bowls, and scored 195 with three strikes in the 10th frame. I was so proud. Devon really enjoys bowling and has come out of his shell. SOSC has changed our lives and given my son so much confidence in himself,” Jim said.
Whether it’s a bonding experience between family members or an opportunity to be a part of some good, old-fashioned competition, SOSC bowling has changed the lives of many.
Inside the SOSC is a blog managed by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.