What do you do when you win provincial bronze in five-pin bowling? You come home and keep on bowling.
The Fort St. John Bull Dogs were back at the local lanes Monday night, fresh off the 2023 Special Olympics BC Winter Games in Kamloops last weekend.
The Bull Dogs finished third in a six game roll-off with a total pinfall of 4459. Bowler Levi Fowler finished their division with the highest single score of 251, and highest total scratch of 1174.
“It was good, shocked that I got it. First time going with Special O, didn’t expect us to place third but I’m glad we did,” said Fowler, whose favourite part of the experience was meeting new people.
“I can’t take all the credit for what we did. A lot of it is our coach that helped us get to where we are, we wouldn’t have got where we are without him. He’s the biggest reason we did what we did down there.”
For coach Kim Turney, that's high praise hard to follow.
“I’m there 100% for the athletes, I’m not there for myself at all,” he said. “We have three first-year bowlers for provincials and they all did very, very well. They handled themselves really well.”
“The atmosphere, the excitement when they got into opening ceremonies, they had never seen anything like that,” Turney added. “They fit right in good and all five of them did very well.”
The Bull Dogs were rounded out by Carmela Klassen, Peter Fehr, Sheryl Jakubowski, and Wyatt Turney. Jakubowski was chosen as the Region 8 flag bearer representing northeastern B.C. and the northern interior.
“They put names in a hat and it was ironic, it was her birthday the day that it happened that she was picked,” said Turney. “It was just cool… She’s been to Worlds a couple times and won medals at Worlds, and for her to become the flag bearer was her highlight. She was just thrilled.”
Around 500 athletes took part in provincials this year, and the Bull Dogs are now waiting to hear if the team makes it to nationals, which Turney says there’s a good chance.
The athletes were selected through their performances in regional qualifiers held last winter and spring. Fort St. John athletes had also qualified in curling for this year's games, but chose to go to provincials to bowl.
“You can only go to one sport,” Turney said.
For Fowler, he’s been bowling his whole life. “Getting a strike, it’s a thrill,” he said.
There are 16 athletes currently in local Special Olympics, active since since 1986, and participating in four sports including 5-pin bowling, golf, curling, and Club Fit. The club has offered track and field, rhythmic gymnastics, snowshoeing, figure skating, and swimming in the past, but needs coaches to run those programs again.
The club also needs fundraising and volunteer co-ordinators to ensure its continued success in the community.
“We’re always putting the word out, the more athletes the better, volunteers and what not. We need coaches,” Turney said.
To learn more or get involved, call local co-ordinator Kathy Turney at 250-262-5680, or email email@example.com.