Social interaction is a key part of any sport, especially when athletes haven't seen each other in months or maybe years. For the first time since athletic events were shut down due to COVID, Green County (Area 35) held a bowling event at Olympia Lanes in Greeneville, Tennessee. About 50 athletes from six schools in the area competed at the event, which brought smiles to so many faces.
"As Special Olympics Tennessee in Area 35 (Greeneville, TN) resumes its events for the first time since COVID, I was very excited, pleased and impressed with the turnout," said Rhonda Lankford, Greene County Area Director. "I really appreciated the involvement from students, parents, schools and volunteers. This is just the beginning of what I anticipate for future events."
My favorite moment was witnessing the amount of joy on each athlete's face from the minute they entered the bowling alley...
As it is for most Special Olympics Tennessee athletes, coming together at competitions isn't always about the battle in the field of play. They enjoy the camaraderie of being together again.
"In my opinion, the athletes appeared to be more excited about the opportunity for interactions and being able to socialize with one another again," said Lankford. "The competition was not these athletes' main focus."
The truth in that statement could easily be seen and heard throughout Olympia Lanes.
"The energy was electrifying," said Lankford. "When you looked at the faces you could see them smiling and hear their laughter. Their body language said it all with the amount of dancing and constant clapping for each other, despite how many pins were knocked down."
Something you always notice about Special Olympics Tennessee athletes is that they truly support each other. Whether they are competing against each other or on the same team, they support one another with high-fives, hugs and cheers.
"My favorite moment was witnessing the amount of joy on each athlete's face from the minute they entered the bowling alley to until they returned their rental shoes," said Lankford. "Before the event was over, we were already being asked when and what will be our next event?"
Currently, Greene County offers bowling and track & field. Visit their area page here to find out more information.