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Special Olympians on a roll

by Nick Rotunno
| November 14, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Bowling is all about skill and challenge, Tammy Topps explained Saturday.

The young Special Olympian from Post Falls had just finished a few games at Sunset Bowling Center, where her team, the Coeur d'Alene Eagles, was competing against the Silver Valley Superstars. Topps had bowled well - her best 10-frame score was a 168.

"I had some pretty high games," she said. "Everyone's all real friendly. Everyone's all at their best."

Topps enjoys bowling, she said, especially those moments that require special savvy, like converting a tricky spare. She's very good; in fact, she qualified for the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China, but unfortunately couldn't compete because of an illness.

She'd like to qualify again some day.

"That's very much my goal," Topps said. "My favorite thing about bowling is trying to pick up the hardest things, like the splits."

Several dozen athletes participated in Saturday's area event, which brought together Special Olympians from the Coeur d'Alene region and the Silver Valley. Some, like Topps, were skilled bowlers, while others were at the novice level. Fun, teamwork and camaraderie - not winning - were the goals.

"What we do is compete against other teams that are in the area," explained Carol Peck, who coordinates fundraising for the Eagles. "We've got bowlers that are beginning bowlers, and we have bowlers that are bowling 175. So it ranges."

Special Olympics offers year-round athletic activities, but bowling is the only sport that takes place in late fall. The Eagles were running low on funds, Peck said, and were almost forced to cancel bowling. But the Texas Roadhouse donated money and T-shirts, Cop on Top lent a hand, and Numerica Credit Union wrote a $5,000 check.

Bowling was saved, and the winter sports season - which features floor hockey, snowshoeing, downhill and cross-country skiing - was also salvaged.

Given a chance to compete, the athletes were all smiles at Sunset Bowling Center.

"The first game I had a 96, and the second game I had 138," Johnny Bishop of Coeur d'Alene, said proudly. He likes to bowl whenever he can - it's his favorite sport.

"Sometimes I bowl here off-season, and sometimes I bowl in Post Falls," he added.

Most Special Olympics sports require walking or running. Bowling, however, is open to anyone, including those in wheelchairs, Peck said. A metal ramp, positioned at the beginning of a lane, allowed sitting athletes to roll a ball toward the pins.

No one was excluded from the fun.

"I had a good time today, said Tanja Batchelder, an Eagles athlete from Coeur d'Alene, who bowled three games in the mid-100s. "It's my favorite sport of the year. I love bowling. Good exercise for you."

The Coeur d'Alene Eagles are always looking for additional athletes and volunteers. Local Special Olympics needs additional funding, too. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 653, Rathdrum, ID 83858.

For more information on Special Olympics, call 651-7534.

"I had some pretty high games," she said. "Everyone's all real friendly. Everyone's all at their best."

Topps enjoys bowling, she said, especially those moments that require special savvy, like converting a tricky spare. She's very good; in fact, she qualified for the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China, but unfortunately couldn't compete because of an illness.

She'd like to qualify again some day.

"That's very much my goal," Topps said. "My favorite thing about bowling is trying to pick up the hardest things, like the splits."

Several dozen athletes participated in Saturday's area event, which brought together Special Olympians from the Coeur d'Alene region and the Silver Valley. Some, like Topps, were skilled bowlers, while others were at the novice level. Fun, teamwork and camaraderie - not winning - were the goals.

"What we do is compete against other teams that are in the area," explained Carol Peck, who coordinates fundraising for the Eagles. "We've got bowlers that are beginning bowlers, and we have bowlers that are bowling 175. So it ranges."

Special Olympics offers year-round athletic activities, but bowling is the only sport that takes place in late fall. The Eagles were running low on funds, Peck said, and were almost forced to cancel bowling. But the Texas Roadhouse donated money and T-shirts, Cop on Top lent a hand, and Numerica Credit Union wrote a $5,000 check.

Bowling was saved, and the winter sports season - which features floor hockey, snowshoeing, downhill and cross-country skiing - was also salvaged.

Given a chance to compete, the athletes were all smiles at Sunset Bowling Center.

"The first game I had a 96, and the second game I had 138," Johnny Bishop of Coeur d'Alene, said proudly. He likes to bowl whenever he can - it's his favorite sport.

"Sometimes I bowl here off-season, and sometimes I bowl in Post Falls," he added.

Most Special Olympics sports require walking or running. Bowling, however, is open to anyone, including those in wheelchairs, Peck said. A metal ramp, positioned at the beginning of a lane, allowed sitting athletes to roll a ball toward the pins.

No one was excluded from the fun.

"I had a good time today, said Tanja Batchelder, an Eagles athlete from Coeur d'Alene, who bowled three games in the mid-100s. "It's my favorite sport of the year. I love bowling. Good exercise for you."

The Coeur d'Alene Eagles are always looking for additional athletes and volunteers. Local Special Olympics needs additional funding, too. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 653, Rathdrum, ID 83858.

For more information on Special Olympics, call 651-7534.

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