Port Alberni will be sending two bowling teams of five to the Winter Nationals in 2020.
The nationals will take place in Thunder Bay, Ontario from February 25 through 29 and will feature athletes from all across Canada. Participants are: Maurice Bernier, Richard Morgan, Dan Noble, Crystal Rousseau, Sebastien Thomas, Ariel Gust, Cheyenne Jokinen, Dakota Tate, Tyler VanKooten and Jade Vilandre. They had to win at regionals and provincials in order to enter the nationals.
For Bernier, this is his second time attending nationals. He has been bowling for 30 years and hopes to bring home the gold this time.
“The best thing about nationals [is] that you meet so many good friends and different coaches,” he said. “We brought home the gold in Vernon this year at the provincials. The last time I went, we stayed in the dorms in the University of PEI in Charlottetown and this year we will be staying in a hotel.”
Coach Debbie McCooey will be traveling with the athletes, as well as coach Jennifer Knoll. McCooey explained that the bowlers are sponsored by both national and local fundraising.
Special Olympics celebrated 50 years of being in existence this year. The Winter Games are held every four years and were last held in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland in 2016. The event includes eight sports: alpine skiing, 5-pin bowling, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating.
From two-year-olds to mature adults, more than 42,000 athletes are registered in Special Olympics year-round programs across Canada. They are supported by more than 20,000 volunteers, including more than 15,000 trained coaches.
Saturday, Nov. 16 was the annual Invitational Bowling Tournament, which brought bowlers to Port Alberni from Parksville, Qualicum, Nanaimo, Comox and Campbell River.
Anyone with special needs can join Special Olympics in Port Alberni. They have almost every sport you can think of. If you would like to learn more, please contact Anne Evans at 250-735-0372.