Five Port Alberni bowlers will travel to Charlottetown, PEI next week to attend the Special Olympics national championships.
The five-pin bowlers—known as the Alley Oops—are Maurice (Moe) Bernier, Louisa Johnny, Dawn Mills, Ken Rudd and Ken Tassie. They have all been training with regular bowling practices and games, as well as going to the gym, swimming and walking so they are prepared for competition, team spokesperson Anne Evans said.
None of the athletes have been to Prince Edward Island before, but they are all looking forward to both the flight and the games.
“I like flying in a plane,” Johnny said, adding that she has attended a national championship before, and she’s looking forward to seeing her Team BC teammates again. She competed in track and field at the 2010 nationals in London, ON.
Berneir has also been to the nationals before, competing in the 2014 championships in Vancouver. “I got a gold medal there,” he said. He was also selected to bowl in the 2010 nationals in London, but had just started a new job and couldn’t take time off, so he didn’t go.
Berneir has been bowling with Special Olympics since 1989. “I wish to heck I would have started this before,” he added.
“Going to PEI it will be nice to meet lots of other people, other bowlers,” he said. “It will be a nice experience. I’ve never flown there before.”
Mills is looking forward to going somewhere new, too. “I’ve been to Mexico and stuff, but I’m looking forward to seeing something new.”
Rudd loves to fly, so he’s looking forward to that experience. He is also looking forward to exploring PEI as much as he is bowling.
Tassie said he’s looking forward to “first place,” and he’s not nervous about going to PEI.
The five Port Alberni athletes will join 51 other bowlers from B.C. in both five- and 10-pin events at the nationals. All the athletes qualified for the national bowling championship by winning gold medals at the 2017 Special Olympic Summer Games in Kamloops.
The bowlers will leave for Charlottetown on May 14 and attend opening ceremonies on May 15. The championships run until May 19.
This is the last time bowling will be part of the Summer Games, Evans said. “Now it’s becoming a winter sport (and will be part of the Special Olympics Winter Games).”
LANE TALK…Jacob Plett from Trail, B.C. is coaching Team BC at the nationals…The Alley Oops thank coach Jaci Gaetz, who has been coaching Special Olympics bowlers in Port Alberni since 1986…The Special Olympics program in Port Alberni just received a donation of $18,500 from the 100 Women Who Care Port Alberni organization…Special Olympics is looking for a volunteer co-ordinator for the Port Alberni program. Anyone interested in the position can contact Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org.