Steamboat Springs At the start of the first Yampa Valley Special Olympics Bowling Tournament, Jay Greenhill was hoping to get the sort of score he racks up on a good day.
For Greenhill, a Steamboat Springs resident and client at Horizons Specialized Services, that would be between 115 and 125. As competition started at Snow Bowl on Saturday afternoon, Greenhill was on track to do just that. Then he got a turkey — three strikes in a row — and the family fan club behind him erupted.
“I think my game’s getting better and better every time,” Greenhill said before he started bowling. This is his first year participating in a fall bowling program sponsored by Knights of Columbus council 4462.
“He’s so excited; he’s been waiting to bowl for a long time,” said Debbie Greenhill, Jay’s mother and one of several family members who made the drive from Oak Creek to cheer for him Saturday. “He just moved up here this past February on his own, and he’ll probably continue to do it year after year after year, as long as they’ll have him.”
Jay Greenhill had the top score in his lane during the first game of the day, finishing with a 133.
He and 35 other athletes from Routt and Moffat counties were signed up to bowl in lanes with three to five players at the tournament, which was the first of its kind for the bowling program. Now in its 16th year, the program in the past has featured a regional tournament in New Castle and an overnight trip to a statewide competition in Denver.
“We decided this year we could better serve the community and the Special Olympics qualifying folks by having the tournament here and including everyone,” said Mike “Woody” Bieron, a Knights of Columbus member who helped launch the local bowling program 16 years ago.
Members of the Catholic fraternal service organization volunteer to help Special Olympics athletes with practice for two hours every Saturday through the fall, and they fund the program with an annual Tootsie Roll candy sale, Bieron said.
Family, friends, community members and well-wishers filled Snow Bowl by the time the tournament got into full swing, as a variety of athletes bowled for competition, fun or both.
Donnie Pearce, a Horizons client in Steamboat, said he was enjoying seeing all his friends while competing. His goal to “get as many strikes as you can” seemed to be working, as he pulled a 137 in his first game. Misty Garcia, also a Steamboat Horizons client, said she likes “getting in the 90s” and if possible, getting strikes. More than that, she enjoyed being with friends during the tournament.
Mike Dwire, a vocational specialist with Horizons who helps organize the bowling program, said the regional Snow Bowl tournament is likely to continue for the next few years.
“It’s great to see people from the community and the families here. When you have out-of-town tournaments you don’t get that,” Dwire said.
Saturday’s tournament opened with the national anthem and a recitation of the Special Olympics creed and closed with a medal ceremony. Athletes competed against their lane, and everyone received a medal or a ribbon.