By Terrionna Brockman
Katharina Mitchell is from Tehachapi, California, and is proud to showcase her bowling skills at USA Games in Orlando, Florida for the first time. She has been bowling for Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) for over ten years, starting out on the Antelope Valley team and eventually joining the Kern County Team where she is an active team member.
Katharina says that Special Olympics is “a good way for us to get out and socialize with each other that don’t get to normally socialize.” She goes on to explain how Special Olympics provides athletes who tend to spend the majority of their time alone, with family, and or with caregivers the chance to make genuine connections with fellow athletes, coaches, and members of the SOSC community.
Since becoming a SOSC athlete, Katharina has experienced what it feels like to be accepted, included, and understood. Through SOSC, she saw that there were others who shared similar experiences stating, “It gives me a good opportunity to show that I’m not the only person in the world. There are others like me who are going through the same thing – being looked at differently.” She has benefitted from the transformative power of SOSC by learning new things, being supportive of her peers, and meeting people who also embrace who they are.
When Katharina received the call from her coach with news that she’d be attending USA Games, she said that she was speechless! On top of the good news, she’s also looking forward to visiting Florida, a state she has never been to before. She says jokingly, “If they would have said we were going to go to Phoenix, I would be like yeah… I’ve been there too many times!”
To prepare for the Games, Katharina completes over 10,000 steps a day and practices with her bowling partner. Being physically active has helped her to accomplish her personal health and wellness goals and says that “Participating gives me the activities that I normally don’t get on a daily basis as I used to.” She plans to be consistent with her training in order to get a feel for what the competition will be like in Orlando.
Representing Southern California at the games carries weight and Katharina, among all athletes attending the Games, gets to showcase great pride for her region, community, and team. “It means a lot,” she shares. “I had the skills a long time ago, and we could have been selected a long time ago, but for whatever reason, it just wasn’t the right time.” She goes on to explain that now is the right time for her to compete outside of local competitions, which she refers to as “making a new step in the next big adventure.”