Twenty-two athletes from Houston, Burns Lake and Smithers meet every week in Houston for Special Olympic Bowling.
Started up in Houston this year, the program runs September to March every Tuesday morning, and includes three bowlers from Houston, one from Smithers and 18 from Burns Lake – 10 seniors and eight high school students from the special education class, said Coach Jeannie Cramer.
“It’s very exciting,” said Cramer, adding that the group is bigger than she expected because of the high school students.
Asked how she likes the bowling program, Houston bowler Carla Johnson says it’s awesome.
“It’s nice to meet others there,” she said, adding that the ramp she uses at the Pleasant Valley Plaza is really nice.
Pleasant Valley Plaza got a bowling ramp in September 2012 because they knew Carla needed one and a few people had asked about it, said Manager Bea Paquin.
She says several people are using it from the Special Olympic group and are getting quite good at it.
The Houston bowling program was started by the Burns Lake Special Olympic Committee, who used to bowl in Burns Lake until the bowling alley shut down, said Cramer.
Cramer has been with Special Olympics since 1996, is the head bowling coach in Smithers, and she now coaches in Houston every Tuesday.
Cramer says there are all different kinds of bowlers, even in generic bowling, and as a coach her role is to find out what works for each bowler and help them improve on that.
“You have to figure out what they are comfortable with at first, and then you say, ‘Okay, so I need you just to slow down a bit and stretch it out this way,'” said Cramer.
Cramer says she sets a different goal for the bowlers each week, based on what they can do as individuals.
They have a goal to beat their average, or beat their high game, or get a strike or a spare, said Cramer, adding that this way, when they get a strike or spare, or meet their goal, it’s even more enhanced that they did it.
Houston Community Support Worker Stephanie Lieuwen says they were all pretty happy when the bowling started up in Houston.
“They love the bowling and the atmosphere of having that many people around,” she said.
“It’s just wonderful.”