The New Paltz Central School District (NPCSD) Athletic Department rolled out its first Unified Sports program, Team Bowling, this year, and the team quickly made its mark, bowling its way to a third-place finish in its first season.
Unified Sports teams, a collaboration between the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the Special Olympics, combine athlete participants of different intellectual abilities. The initiative is rooted in the principle of meaningful involvement. Every player is given an opportunity to contribute to the team’s success through their unique skills. No experience is necessary for anyone interested in participating on a team.
New Paltz High School (NPHS) Physical Education teacher Mike Vance and NPHS Special Education teacher Pierce Davis supported the team’s development and progress. The three-member team practiced weekly at Patel’s Lanes in Kingston. Kingston High School’s bowling team also practiced at the bowling alley at the same time, affording the student athletes the opportunity to engage and socialize with each other outside of competition.
Bowlers on the team brought varying levels of experience, with two having become familiar with bowling through their afterschool program. One team member started the season with a strong foundation in bowling, even owning his own bowling ball. His teammates noted that their games improved with practice as the season went on and thanks to the instructive and supportive coaching of Vance and Davis.
“The bowling team athletes get structure and the experience of being part of a team competition in a positive venue where they can learn about how to deal with failure and also enjoy successes,” said Davis, adding that each bowler on the team jumps up and down every time they knock down pins. Vance worked with students on skill-building and appreciated seeing their confidence grow as they progressed.
NPCSD director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Greg Warren said that Unified Sports are a welcomed addition to the athletics program. Warren said that he is pleased with the new team’s success and looks forward to watching it evolve in the coming seasons.
Enrollment for the District’s new Unified Basketball team will begin in April. For more information on Unified Bowling or Unified Basketball, please contact Jenna Manning at Jmanning@newpaltz.k12.ny.us.