The Ontario Special Olympics five-pin bowling championships will be held this week (June 5-8) in Oshawa.
Six bowlers from Kingston have qualified for the provincial competition.
“They’ve been working very, very hard for this,” said Doug Bird, the team’s long-time bowling coach.
Bird started the Special Olympics program back in 1992 at the Garrison Lanes at CFB Kingston. For the past 27 years, he’s coached these special athletes on a volunteer basis.
“I do it for the athletes. It’s as simple as that,” continued Bird.
“I love being around them. You may be feeling down but they always bring you back up. I admire their passion, their determination and their willingness to always give their best. For me, it’s a labour of love. Coaching these athletes gives me tremendous satisfaction.”
The Kingston Bowled Ones look forward to the competition in Oshawa. The team is comprised of six athletes. They include Shawn Levesque, Robbie Sherren, Mike Campanaro, Brandy Sokil, Francine Young and Darren Dykstra.
“Doug’s a good man,” said Dykstra, who also competes with the Special Olympics in speed-skating.
“He’s a good bowler and a good coach,” he said.
“We’re going to Oshawa to win some medals and have some fun.”
Bird says fun is the keyword but they’re also there to compete.
“As a coach, I ask that the athletes do their best at all times,” said Bird.
“If they’re having fun, they’ll compete even harder. Winning is not the most important thing in Special Olympics. It’s participating and doing the best they can. I want my bowlers to go to Oshawa and do just that. They may never get this chance again, so hopefully, they’ll come back with some medals and some wonderful lifetime memories.”