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March 8, 2003

A league of their own

From: Capital News, NY - 08 Mar 2003

By: Mike Crispino

Ask any of these bowlers and they'll tell you they're just bowling.
But it's how they'll tell you that makes this a story worth telling.

This is a league of athletes sharing a common bond. They all love to bowl, they relish a strike, and they're all deaf.

Jamie O'Hea said, "Its like a small family here. You come here to enjoy yourself."

Jamie O'Hea comes from a unique family. His father Tom, who is also deaf, bowls on the same league at Latham Bowl.

Tom O'Hea said, "My family, it's sort of a tradition. We're very athletic, we like to bowl, we like to ski, play golf, baseball."

Do not confuse deaf with disability. There is nothing unique about the way they play. A strike is a strike and any player is lucky to get one.

Years ago, deaf was equalled to dumb and stereotypes wore down the spirit of the deaf community, but not now, and definitely not here.

Tom said, "Just because I'm deaf, I mean, doesn't mean that, you know, I'm different. I'm the same as any other man."

Mark Sykowski said, "I can't hear. Some other people can hear. But when you're out there bowling you're just the same as everyone else. Its the same ability."

And because the game is the same, so are the rewards.
There is plenty of high fiving, smiles, and even yelling.

Mark said, "Three weeks ago, for the first time I got 11 strikes in a row. I mean, I never thought I would do that. People were all clapping for me. They were all going nuts for me. The spirit of support here is amazing."

The support is what makes this league a family. Like any family, the group continues to grow.

And the O'Hea's are always looking for a new team to challenge them on the lanes.

Copyright ©2003 TWEAN News Channel of Albany, L.L.C d.b.a. Capital News 9