Since April, 10 bowlers have been meeting once a week to work on their technique while working towards the State Masters Bowling tournament which will take place on the third weekend of August in Warner Robbins.

This will be the first time a Special Olympics bowling team representing Rome and Floyd County will make the trip to the bowling state tournament which is expecting around 1,000 Georgia bowlers. The 10 bowlers practice every Monday for about an hour at the Floyd Bowling & Amusement Center on Riverbend Drive.

Bowling Coordinator Karen Cook said she and Coach Florice Schneider sent in the teams scores as a team as well as individuals so when they compete at the tournament the bowlers can face off against others at their age and skill level. Our local group may find themselves split up at times, but they will all be sporting their new uniforms made up of khaki pants and a light blue shirt.

“When we did bowling in January and July some of the (adults) wanted to do a Special Olympics Sport,” she said. “It gave them something to work towards.”

Cook said she knew there were some in the special needs community that wanted to compete in a state Special Olympics sport and bowling was decided on as a good starting point. She said there was also several who had been working on bowling for years in local leagues and were interested in going to state.

The host town of Warner Robbins is great to the athletes, Schneider said. Schneider has been to other Special Olympics events in Houston County and said there are usually signs everywhere in support of the athletes.

The coach works with the bowlers on being timely, technique and bowling etiquette.

C.J. McGinnis said the techniques Schneider showed him after a bad frame really helped improve his accuracy during his next one. Several of the team are still getting used to bowling without bumpers, which Adam Tuck said was quite an adjustment.

Like his other teammates, Tuck has to watch for his name, get his ball and get into position in a certain amount of time. His technique used to involve bouncing the ball in-between the bumpers but now has had to change up his strategy for the competition.

“I want to be a bowling champion and king,” he said. Tuck was one of three bowlers to bowl a strike at Monday night’s practice.

Dora Nichols said she also is still adjusting to bowling without the bumpers and after a bit of a warm-up began jumping up on the scoreboard. During the tournament Nichols and her teammates will get to play three games which will give players a bit of a warm-up Cook said.

Cook said if this team attracts more interest then there maybe other Special Olympics sport teams that travel to tournaments around the state. Currently the Rome-Floyd Parks & Recreation, which sponsors the Special Olympics team, has Challenger Sports leagues for those with special needs which include programs include basketball, baseball and bowling.