Unified bowling team created for special education students

Special needs students take part in new Special Olympics bowling team along with De Soto students


Sophomore Lyndon Budimlija and and freshman Lane Vaillancourt celebrating together Monday, Oct. 18.

Kaitlyn Burke, JagWire reporter/photographer

The Unified Bowling team has started its first year. Coach Jamie Pollard, a special education teacher, leads the team along with assistant coach Amy McClure. The Unified Bowling team was created as part of KSHSAA, which recently partnered with Special Olympics and school districts across the state to achieve the goal of making high school sports more inclusive.

Mill Valley and De Soto students have worked together to create one team, consisting of 11 MVHS students, and 5 DHS students. The regular season, excluding regionals, has gone from Oct. 4 to Nov. 3, and together students competed against schools in the area.

The Unified Bowling team practiced at Park Lanes on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30-5:00 pm. During bowling practices, the athletes work together to improve their bowling skills and also have had a lot of fun being able to spend time with each other outside of school.

Pollard was very enthusiastic that KSHSAA has given the students who do not get the chance to compete in high school sports an opportunity they haven’t had before.

Sophomore Lyndon Budimlija and freshman Dylan Roberts assist freshman Lane Vaillancourt at the bowling event at Mission Bowl on Monday, Oct.18.

“It has been a lot of fun to see the teams and individuals improve each week and help each other out,” Pollard said. “ [My favorite part is] watching our athletes and partners smile, work together and have fun.”

The Unified Bowling team competed in a Baker Format in five regular-season competitions. In a Baker Format game, according to Pollard, the athletes bowl the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th frame. Partners bowl the others. They play 6 games, and the scores of all 6 games are recorded.

During the season, competitions have been held at several locations including, Mission Bowl, Olathe Lanes East, and Park Lanes.

Senior Jack Weber, a peer who assists the bowling team’s athletes, has especially enjoyed the opportunity to help the team improve their skills and create a fun environment.

“[My favorite part is] hanging out with all the kids, meeting new people, and getting better at bowling,” Weber said. “It’s fun to watch, helping the kids at the tournaments and watching them get strikes and throw the ball in the lane.”

Senior Kyle West, one of the bowling athletes from MVHS, has enjoyed participating in the Unified Bowling league and has had a fun and successful season.

“I have enjoyed being here with my friends,” West said.

Weber said being involved with Peers in Learning and getting the opportunity to help out with the Unified bowling team “has been a rewarding experience.”

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