Going to GreeceDickinson High School student Billy Pyfer practiced his bowling skills with new resolve during Special Olympics bowling Tuesday at Classic Lanes. He recently was selected to represent the United States in the sport of bowling at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson High School student Billy Pyfer practiced his bowling skills with new resolve during Special Olympics bowling Tuesday at Classic Lanes.
He recently was selected to represent the United States in the sport of bowling at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
“Shocking” was the word used by Billy to described his response.
He will be among more than 300 athletes on the Special Olympics Team USA. The team will compete against athletes from 185 countries June 25 to July 4. Other team members from North Dakota are athlete Jennifer Bennett, and assistant coach Cindy Schopper, both of Valley City.
Using his personal ball during the Tuesday games, Billy persisted until he started throwing strikes — relying on his bowling skills acquired over the last seven years with Special Olympics.
“Billy, you finally threw a strike!” teased his friend Tyrel Ott.
Tyrel admitted he’s bit jealous about Billy’s opportunity.
“It’s pretty cool — I wish I was going,” he said.
His sentiments are echoed by Billy’s bowling teammates and others involved with Special Olympics.
It’s exciting,” said teammate Kali Mathern.
Billy’s mother, Sue, was at work when she learned about the trip from Ken Stockert, Area 12 Special Olympics director. Billy was called to come home.
“The look on his face was priceless, he didn’t know what to say,” she said. “It’s an honor to represent North Dakota.”
She described the trip as a good learning experience.
“It will give him a chance to meet different people — to make some new friends,” she said.
Billy will train four days with the team in San Diego in March. In the meantime, he’s preparing for the state Special Olympics bowling games Nov. 6-7 at Mandan.
“Everybody goes — he came back with a gold medal last year,” she said.
Sue appreciates the support that Special Olympics has given Billy over the years.
“He plays every sport there is with Special Olympics,” she said. “It has made him grow up to become a better person… but he’s still a kid.”
Billy was selected by nomination and he qualified by finishing in the top three at the state bowling tournament last year, said Stockert.
He is already helping Billy prepare for the games.
“With his eating habits, this will be a different experience for him,” Stockert joked.
Preferring to eat chicken nuggets and French fries, Billy said he tried some new fruit last weekend and it was tasty.
“We told him he’ll definitely check out different foods over there — that’s going to be the biggest experience,” said Stockert. “He’ll have to show commitment and listen to the coaches when he goes down to San Diego.”
The trip expenses will be covered by Special Olympics.
Stockert said Billy’s opportunity serves as an inspiration for others to participate in the sporting events.
“We’ve got five or six new bowlers who are younger — that’s really nice to see parents getting their kids into Special Olympics,” he said.
However, Special Olympics isn’t just about athletics — it’s the socialization, said Stockert.
“The athletes don’t care how you finish up — they’re playing along side each other — they meet friends from all over the state,” he said.
Special Olympics is a physical fitness, recreation and sports program for persons with intellectual disabilities. Its mission is to provide year-round training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports.
For volunteer opportunities as coaches or partners in games, call 701-746-0331. For more information about Special Olympics, visit the state website specialolympicsnorthdakota.org