For the second time, a Brown County High School student has qualified for the Special Olympics state tournament in bowling.
Corey Dick competed Saturday at the Woodland Bowling Center in Indianapolis. He placed seventh.
Corey, 22, is on the autism spectrum. His mother, Emily, said next semester is his last semester at Brown County High School.
Corey has been participating in the Special Olympics since he was 7. At first, he participated in track and field events, but competing outdoors was difficult for him. “He’s real sensitive to outdoors, the wind and the heat and the elements,” his mother said.
About nine years ago, Corey switched to bowling, which was more appealing since it is an indoor sport.
“All of his life he’s had kind of motor challenges. He’s been in therapy since he was 6 months old. This one allows us to chip away at each of his goals a little at a time, from throwing, to where he stands, to turn taking, to tolerating noise,” Emily Dick said.
This year’s goal was motor planning. “It’s your brain’s ability to plan actions. That’s actually been kind of a challenge for him this year, and last year he seemed to have mastered foot placement so he didn’t trip or fall,” she said.
He’s also worked on dealing with changes, such as switching lanes between turns and competing in different bowling alleys than the one he is used to visiting.
“Any changes are difficult,” Emily said.
The area tournament was Nov. 4 in Clarksville. Each competing group is broken out by score handicaps. Corey’s division had two people in it and the top two winners are sent to compete in the state competition.
Players are not competing against each other, but against their own scores.
“I think it’s fabulous. It’s less of a competitive kind of atmosphere. It’s just you doing your best no matter what you are,” Emily said.
Corey practices with his area team in Columbus. “It’s a really awesome group. I love all of the coaches. It’s just real positive there,” Emily said.
After being named one of the winners in his score division, Corey was really happy because he received a medal instead of a ribbon, she said.
Competing at state will be another change for him. The last time he qualified, he wasn’t able to attend due to inclement weather.
After the state contest, Emily reported that Corey was really happy, focused and “tried his best.”
“He spoke and gestured really well with other bowlers and volunteers,” she said. “One asked how he did and he said, ‘I got a ribbon!’ He speaks very little, so it was very touching.”
Emily appreciates that the Special Olympics allow her son to have fun while getting physical activity in.
“He’s not a real physical kid. He likes computers, drawing, reading and kind of indoor type things,” she said. “He’s a sweetheart.”
His high school teacher of eight years, Barb Kelp, echoed that sentiment.
“Corey is a kind person with a gentle soul,” she said. “I’m honored to be his teacher and know him. … It’s great to see him achieve this honor. Corey has enjoyed Special Olympics so much, he has invited his classmates to participate with him.”
Kelp said Corey is a talented artist who produces detailed work, and he enjoys music so much he often breaks out in song in class.
Another reason Kelp was “delighted” to know Corey had qualified for the state competition was because people with disabilities are not often recognized or celebrated for their achievements.
“The acknowledgement through this achievement is well deserved for someone who has worked hard to achieve this level,” she said. “I could not be happier for him.”