A competitive spirit mingles with team camaraderie at the weekly practices for Masters Bowling.

The program, sponsored by Special Olympics Coastal Georgia, began practice last week for its annual out-of-town competition in August. Masters Bowling serves adults ages 22 and older with developmental disabilities and offers them an opportunity to develop their skills as bowlers while socializing with their peers.

“They really cheer each other on,” said Rhonda Diggs, program coordinator for Special Olympics Coastal Georgia. “It’s all fun and games.”

Special Olympics Coastal Georgia serves residents in Glynn and McIntosh counties. The Masters Bowling team will travel in August to Warner Robins for a Special Olympics tournament on the Air Force base.

Every summer, the local team begins to meet for weekly practices about two months before the tournament. They practice at the StrikeZone in Brunswick, where the players use several lanes and play multiple games each practice, honing their skills.

“They develop their skills, get more comfortable with the ball and the weights of the ball,” Diggs said. “They’re also getting that peer interaction and social time.”

Over the course of the months of practice, Diggs said she’ll see the players’ confidence steadily grow.

“They get a little bit more competitive, once they see their scores are increasing every week,” she said. “Then that’s what they aim for, and when they go to competitions, they want that high score.”

The team also makes a point to encourage one another to continue improving.

“It’s very friendly,” Diggs said. “They will cheer each other on.”

Special Olympics Coastal Georgia teams travel four times a year for games. The program runs solely on donations, Diggs said, and covers nearly all costs for athletes.

“All help is greatly appreciated, because there is no cost to the athletes,” she said.

Donations can be mailed to Special Olympics Coastal Georgia at P.O. Box 1952 in Brunswick, 31521.

Those wishing to volunteer with the program are also encouraged to do so.

“We’re always seeking volunteers throughout the year, for the various sports we play,” Diggs said.

Dianne Harris, a Brunswick resident, recently began volunteering with the program and said she’s planning now to travel with the teams as much as possible.

“It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done,” she said.

Those interested in joining the team can contact the program at sogacoastal@gmail.com.

“We just want to involve as many athletes as possible,” Diggs said.

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