Special Olympics bowling

Athletes from the Special Olympics Heart of Texas Area 12 get ready to compete at the area bowling tournament Saturday at Phantom Warrior Lanes bowling alley on Fort Hood.

Fort Hood hosted the Special Olympics Heart of Texas Area 12 bowling tournament Saturday at the Phantom Warrior Lanes bowling alley, located by the Clear Creek gate.

Seven teams participated in the two-day tournament Friday and Saturday, representing 12 Central Texas counties within the district.

Athletes who meet the requirements after the area tournament will compete at the state tournament in Austin in February 2017.

Col. Todd Fox, post garrison commander, started the tournament by honoring the athletes and thanking all the volunteers who made the event possible before rolling out the first ball. The commander knocked down nine pins on his first attempt, easily overcoming the two gutter-balls he threw Friday to kick off the tournament.

“We have a couple of rules — I told most of you this while I was walking around this morning,” Fox said when he addressed the athletes. “Whether you’re an athlete, a coach or a volunteer, if you’re at Fort Hood and you’re at Phantom Warrior Lanes, you must smile. There are a couple of you who have a real hard time doing that, so I’m going to keep walking around and looking for you.”

Joanna Courtland, a Copperas Cove coach with the Killeen-Cove-Hood Phantoms team, said the district has been working hand-in-hand with the Exceptional Family Member Program on post to host more events for families with special needs members.

“Each team brings a good group of athletes. “We brought 25 athletes ourselves,” said Courtland, an Army veteran whose husband serves on Fort Hood and whose daughter is an athlete on the Phantoms. “They bowl amongst their basic age groups they way they will at state. (Athletes) have to meet their number of practices, the number of game averages and you have to attend the area meet — then you can go off to state.”

Courtland said Phantom Warrior Lanes is the best venue in the region to compete at.

“It’s the biggest bowling alley in the (Department of Defense). It’s also where we practice every Saturday morning, so our athletes are familiar with the lanes,” she said.

After the introduction, all the athletes joined in reciting the Special Olympics Athletes Oath and singing the national anthem before warming up and getting ready to compete.

“I’m having fun,” said David Zenk, a 43-year-old athlete with the Corsicana Tigers who bowls a 135 average. “I like doing this and working out at the YMCA.”

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

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