East unified bowling end their season with a strike


Senior Alec Welte gets into his bowling stance. The unified bowling team practiced Tuesdays after school at Leopard Lanes. “It’s just something I like to do for fun; it isn’t that challenging. I have been doing it for quite a while now,” Welte said. Photo by Cora Bennet

Lining themselves up for the strike, the East unified bowling team ready themselves to knock down all ten pins and rack up their score to beat the competition.

Unified Bowling is a collaboration between the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) and the Special Olympics Nebraska where special needs students and general education students work together to compete against other schools in competition. Unified Bowling became a NSAA sanctioned sport around five years go and that was also the time that Unified Bowling came to East.

“Actually, I was a little caught off guard five years ago when I was approached by an administrator asking if I would be interested. I guess they knew that I have long been involved in the game, bowling in leagues and periodic tournaments,” bowling coach Kent Crossley said.

There is a varsity, jv, purple and white team at East. The teams at East compete in a Baker Format which is when the bowlers must rotate players in a specific order so each bowler will be able to play.

“I love practicing with my team because we just bowl and try to get better,” sophomore Isabella Maldonado said. “It doesn’t feel very pressured to improve; it just feels like bowling with my friends.”

When preparing for competition, students practiced on Tuesdays. Although they compete in a Baker Format, when students practiced they would focus individually on different styles of bowling. They also made sure practices were fun and had a welcoming environment as Crossley and the bowlers believe that their positive attitudes have big impact on their bowling.

“My personal goals for this season is that I would make a new friend and beat my score of 114,” junior Lindsey Vance said.

Crossley could only bring five students to the district tournament. At the beginning of the season Crossy had to determine what specific goals he wanted to achieve. He wanted students who wanted to represent the school well and be able to work with other students. At the end of the year, Crossley had a decision to make.

“We had quite a few bowlers this year with even abilities, so there were some periodic changes of teaming when I thought someone was showing improvement, so I took those that I thought were peaking, although it was not an easy decision,” Crossley said.

Unified Bowling’s season ended on December 9 when they had competed at state. During the season they competed in a tournament and a triangular as well as competing one-on-one with other schools. At Districts the East team came third out of eight and ended the season with ten wins and nine losses.

“I had a lot of fun the past two years and I liked how it’s not super competitive, but you are always trying to get a better score every time you play,” Vance said.