Each unified bowling team has five members

To read on The Grand Island Independent website:

UNIFIED BOWLING. Five schools compete in district unified bowling competition

unified bowling

Zach Mayhew
Dante Wing celebrates a spare Tuesday at Super Bowl during the Unified Bowling districts hosted by Grand Island Senior High. Along with Senior High teams from Northwest, Lexington, McCook and Central Valley competed in the district. (Independent/Zach Mayhew)

Northwest High School may have won the first ever district meet in unified bowling on Tuesday.

But all the team members and people in the audience can say they were the first.

This is the first year the Nebraska School Activities Association has sanctioned unified bowling as one of its interscholastic sports competitions, complete with a regular season and district championships. In addition to Northwest High School, the other unified bowling teams competing in Tuesday’s district championship were Grand Island Senior High, Lexington, McCook and Central Valley.

Each team had its ardent followers, composed primarily of moms and dads, as well as a few grandmas and grandpas. GISH has the largest cheering section because its district team — which included Hailey Jones, Dante Wing, Caden Faubion, Sawyer Hahn and Dakota Olson — had two more GISH unified bowling team members applauding and yelling for every strike and spare made.

“They actually had a bowl-off to see who the bowlers would be here today,” said Renee Engel, director of the Central Nebraska Support Services Program.

Unified bowling was inspired by Special Olympics Unified Sports, which “joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team.” One of the Nebraska School Activities Association’s definition of a student with an intellectual disability is a student who has an IEP, or Individualized Education Program. Students with no intellectual disabilities who are part of unified bowling are known as partners.

Each unified bowling team has five members. The only requirement for participation is having at least one student on the team with intellectual disabilities. However, the GISH team competing in districts had four students with intellectual disabilities on its team.

District competition was at the Super Bowl in Grand Island, with Grand Island Senior High acting as the host for the event, which meant it provided lane hosts to help record scores for each team. It also provided sacks containing bottled water, as well as homemade trail mix, for each team member competing Tuesday.

There may be no bigger booster of unified bowling than “Super George” — that is, George Overfield, who owns and operates the Super Bowl, along with his son, Geo.

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