Unified Bowling team brings students together


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The 2018-19 school year marks the first year of Berea Community High School’s Unified Bowling team.

A Unified Bowling team is a team where individuals with special needs and others compete together: the unified partner (a non-special-needs student) and the Special-Olympics athlete alternate frames during the competition. Berea Community High School’s team had 13 total athletes, with 6 first-place and 5 second-place finishes at the recent regional bowling tournament. Despite this success and ample qualification, the team has decided not to compete in the state tournament this year. The coach of the team and first-year teacher at Berea, Danielle Lillie, stated, “We had people come out and cheer the [team] on at practices and the tournaments…so, in general we had a great season and we’ve had a lot of support so far.”

In contrast to Berea Community, this is not an entirely new operation for Coach Lillie. When asked why she was inspired to form the Pirate Special Olympics Team, she said that “this is my twelfth year coaching for the Special Olympics, and—with the culture of the school and how inclusive it is—this is the first year that we’ve had what we’ve needed for a unified team. We actually had more people wanting to be unified partners than we had special-needs students, which is a great situation.” Lillie hopes for the program to continue throughout the year. “Bowling is hopefully just the start; I’m looking forward to other sports as well. Come March, we will have a unified track team, so anything that we see a desire for we will hopefully be able to start up,” she said.

The Special Olympics program is a world-wide operation, and with the amount of support that the Pirate team has gotten so far, Lillie and everyone else involved are very eager to see where this could take them. Lillie commented, “I want to thank all of the people who have supported the Unified Bowling Team this year. Having a pep-rally and just the overall support from teachers and students has really helped the team.”

Students, teachers and community members are proud of the results of the 2018-19 Pirate Unified Bowling Team and are eager to see what may come in the future.