Rise with us

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

I took my own advise on Sunday afternoon and tuned into ABC to watch the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics. I will own that I had hoped to catch a glimpse of Mike Moore or his amazing family, thankfully J.J. Miller succeeded where many of us failed and caught Mike with the Team Ohio and was able to capture that moment.

I have always been a fan of the Special Olympics but on this day, sighting Mike and bowling was my primary focus. I remember my “Holy Crap!” moment when Jonathan Harmon strolled in with his state. The banner underneath his name indicated that he had ten perfect games. Mike’s competition clearly had game.

Regardless of my efforts it did not take long to get caught up in the moment of the games and the stories of the competitors.

Rise with us! Pride! Inclusion!

It helped me understand the ultimate success of the Mike Moore and the Abbey Conleys of the world. They each have had to overcome challenges that each of us would hate to live with but they have done it with dignity and grace. When they are on the field of play they simply are facing another challenge far less complex than how they spend each day.

It is a great lesson for all of us who love the sport of bowling. We each face far more difficult issues in life than how we score on the lanes. The sport should be a distraction and not how we measure our life value.

Going into the Special Olympics Mike had 87 gold medals. I once asked him how many silver and bronze he had and he teased some with his response that he did not know because he did not count them. He has been so dominant in the state and our area that I trust he does not have many.

He does have one more bronze and bronze is what he claimed on Monday afternoon in the Best of the Best Singles.

As anticipated, Moore represented our area well, finishing third and earning bronze. Harmon would fair slightly better with a silver finishing with five strikes in his last six shots. Justin Malfitano, a two handed bowler no less finished strong with a 232 to take the gold.

Did Mike complain? Nope his focus is now on to the team and doubles action today, Tuesday and tomorrow. That is how it is in the eyes of the Special Olympian – each day brings a new challenge and a new approach for victory. Interestingly enough there are not any hot rumors that Mike texted Jonathan or Justin and asked them to meet him in LA to form a super team.

I mean would it not be wonderful if all athletes in all sports could take a lesson from the Special Olympians. It is not about the dollars to be earned and not necessarily even about the titles or the medals, it is about the opportunity to overcome challenges. If that was the case in the major sports we would have the parity the leagues claim to be seeking.

Congrats to Mike and his fabulous family opportunity to overcome challenges. If that was the case in the major sports we would have the parity the leagues claim to be seeking.

Congrats to Mike and his fabulous family your depth of knowledge of the spirit of the games and the concept of inclusion is a blessing to all of us.

Circle the date, Aug. 24. The PBA returns to Coldwater for the PBA Xtra Frame Kenn-Feld Group Classic.

Rick Hartings indicates that preparation is under way for the return of the PBA community to our area, Coldwater more specific.

‘We are an Xtra Frame event again like last year. The winner of our tournament will be awarded a national title. We will have the big boys again this year [and as I recall a lady or two also].

If you love the game than it just seems imperative that you make this trip and then follow up with the PBA regional at Wapak a week or so later and then on to Delphos for Canal Days and the PBA 50 when the pros arrive there.

One of the elements that I have always loved about this game is that from the professional ranks to our daily and evening leagues we are regular people involved in the game for the love of it.

Eldon Pryor clearly fit that definition. Pryor passed away during this past Saturday. Eldon was loved by many well beyond his large family. To say that he will be missed is hyperbole.

While he fit the criteria as just a regular guy, he was so much more. I had the opportunity to interact with Eldon at 20th Century on Thursday evenings when he bowled. I can say with all certainty that he loved the game and his teammates. He will clearly be missed.

There was something else special about Eldon, he was one more in a parade of individuals that could be identified as the character ‘Joe Bowler.’ He went all out each game and never gave an inch to the opposition. He was a fighter who would never give in to defeat. Yet he was always able to keep everything in perspective. Much like the Special Olympians he understood that there were bigger battles to be fought in live.

He is with his maker now may he remembered for the joy that he brought friends and family and his competitive spirit.

Sue and family, you are in our prayers.


Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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