A Family By Any Other Name

Laurel Westerman, Staff Writer

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Behind every great athlete is an even greater team. Support comes from family, teammates, and inspiring coaches pushing us to do better. For the members of the Unified Bowling team, this support comes from  the positive environment fostered by coaches Tricia Rohde and Christopher Cobb.

The MN unified bowling team went 8 wins 0 losses this season, ending as runner up at the District championship to the Papillion Monarchs by 32 points. The team’s second season may not have ended as expected, but  the coaches had nothing but positives to say about their experiences.

“[The unified bowling players] were all so great and so helpful to each other, we didn’t have any cattiness or people fighting or anything. It was just people cheering each other on,” Alternate Curriculum Program (ACP) teacher and coach of both the bowling and Sparkle Cheer teams, Tricia Rohde, said.

Christopher Cobb, English teacher and coach with Rohde, acknowledges the sport may not be as physically demanding as others; however, a large amount of technical knowledge and practice are required. Proof of this can be found in sophomore Lauren Tweed. Last year, she did not qualify for districts. Instead of moping, she began practicing every day of the week; this year, Tweed earned her place representing at districts. Said Tweed, “it’s my favorite sport.”

In regards to the sport’s main goal, the emphasis is definitely placed on creating relationships between general and special education student, followed closely by bowling.

“I’ve seen so many relationships happen that wouldn’t have happened before. A lot of the general education students come in like, ‘oh my gosh, you know, what did I get myself into? How do I do this,’ and by the end, they have such great relationships, and [are] working together,” Rohde said.  “I just think that’s amazing..and, obviously, we wanna win, also.”

In addition to such an emphasis being placed on the creation of friendships and understanding between students, most players spend a large amount of time, bowling. Adam Gollhofer, for example, has bowled for 7 years, and is a member of a league along with being the team’s highest scoring member.

Obviously, scores aren’t the only reason these bowlers come together every week, during the season, like Rohde explained. The team is open to anyone; there are currently 33 members: 19 general ed., and 14 SPED qualified. In fact, one of MN’s highest scoring players, freshman Drew Hall, is a general ed. student. From the beginning of his membership on the team, he has supported every one of his peers. While some have been hesitant to announce their membership in fear of being teased, Hall has a different take, “I say it proudly.” He also believes that the association the bowling team gets with special education is not negative, and that he, “want[s] people to think that it’s different and special.”

And the MN unified bowling team is both of those things. The atmosphere in practices and meets is overwhelmingly supportive and, as Tweed said, “just fun.” Our school’s team could also use more members, so come the new season, consider joining another family; like Cobb said, “everyone likes to bowl!”

For more information, check out the twitter page @MNUnifiedBowlin, visit Coaches Cobb (2159) or Rohde (2153), or  contact them at [email protected] and [email protected]

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A Family By Any Other Name