Blaine Jemming is one of five students from the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired who will be participating at the Special Olympics Bowling Tournament this weekend.
The tournament takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Village Bowl, with an estimated 537 bowlers from across the state expected. Participants compete individually Friday, in two-person teams Saturday and in four-person teams Sunday. SDSBVI teacher and team coach Tevan Fischbach said some overflow two-person team bowling takes place today and opening ceremonies take place Friday evening at the Ramada Inn.
Of the five bowlers on the SDSBVI team, three have limited vision and four use a ramp to send the ball down the lane.
"No two ramps are the same," said Fischbach, explaining that the first game often is spent adjusting the ramp for the best outcome.
Jemming is 8 and a first-year participant. But, he isn't just participating — he'll be leading the Special Olympics oath during opening ceremonies and he's a member of the choir singing the national anthem.
While he's not quite sure how he feels about leading the oath, he's excited about the tournament itself. He and his teammates will be participating in the singles event.
"I like the part where I can see the pins go down," Jemming said.
Fischbach said Jemming can distinguish shadows, and Jemming said he's able to hear the pins go down.
Asked what his highest score has been, Jemming said he's scored as high as a 200 on Wii bowling, but isn't sure of his top score at the bowling alley.
This won't be his only Special Olympics event. Jemming aims to participate in swimming and track and field.
Other members of the team from SDSBVI are Al-lyn Bear Stops of Iron Lightning; Michael MiMillen of Yankton; Shane Hoffman of Ashley, N.D.; and Hailey Heintzman of Aberdeen.
The SDSBVI has one of four Aberdeen teams competing this weekend. Other teams are organized through the Aberdeen public school system and Aspire. Another community team, Aberdeen Thunder, is coached by Cindy and Mike Markley.
Fischbach said each of the participants complete three games for singles or team competitions. Those three games are compiled into an overall score that is ranked by division. The top three participants earn medals. Ribbons are awarded to the rest of the participants.
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