Northport High School students celebrated the end of their second year of unified bowling on January 20 at Larkfield Lanes. The team brings general education and special education students together for fun and friendly bowling matches.
16 high school students joined the team for the second season, with coaches Cassie Reilly, Annette Giglio and Brett Belfiore leading them. This year's team was open to the entire school whereas last year’s pilot program was open only to members of the Best Buddies program.
While unified bowling is not yet recognized as an official sport, Section XI is in the process of working with Special Olympics and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) to have it recognized in the near future. Despite not being an official sport, students were able to have unofficial scrimmages against local teams in Huntington and Harborfields.
All of the returning players saw increases in their overall scores, with Senior, Jonathan Lembo scoring their first “turkey,” or three strikes in a row.
“The growth we have seen in this program in such a short time has been amazing,” said Transition Coordinator Cassie Reilly. “The student's excitement to be there, participate and work together as a team in a sport that can be more focused on the individual is exceptional. The feedback we have gotten from all the families has been extremely positive. Starting anything new in these past two years has presented new challenges and our athletes and their families have been partners with the district in understanding the need for change and being flexible with us as we are figuring out this new program.”