Striking Stars bowling league offers unique opportunity

Children and adults with a range of disabilities come together for bowling each Thursday at Hanover Bowling Centre.

Barry Sparks
For The York Dispatch

Participants in the Striking Stars League at Hanover Bowling Centre were eager to start bowling. Amaree Brown and Hannah Felsch had been waiting 20 minutes for the 12:30 p.m. start.

Before starting time arrived, Alex Carl, Q Mintmier and Renee Miller joined Brown and Felsch. A spectator could sense their excitement.

It only took a couple frames before Brown rolled a strike. She broke out in a grin as wide as the 7-10 split and received high fives from her teammates. They enthusiastically celebrate strikes and spares just like this every Thursday afternoon.

"Bowling is a lot of fun, and I enjoy being on a team," said Brown, 23, of Hanover. "The more I bowl, the better I get."

Striking Stars League participants, from left to right, are Renee Miller, Hannah Felsch, Amaree Brown, Q Mintmier and Alex Carl.

The Striking Stars League is designed for children and adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, sensory integration issues, coordination disorder, development disabilities/mental retardation and other diagnoses.

League members can use bumpers and ramps or choose to bowl without aids. 

"This is a wonderful opportunity for people like Renee (Miller)," said Jenny Baker, a director support staff member at J.T. Mummert. She accompanies Miller to the bowling center every week.

"It's a chance for them to be part of a group, cheer each other on and have fun. I would like to see the program expand."

Kristen Gessner, manager of Hanover Bowling Centre, is proud to provide a place for people to come together.

"We are happy to offer this bowling league because people with disabilities often have limited opportunities," Gessner said. "The league provides social interaction and gives them something to look forward to every week."

Gessner has received a lot of positive feedback about the league. She believes the league has tremendous potential to grow.

Participants receive a free T-shirt and medals after every eight-week session. Bowlers roll two games a week and are treated to pizza and soda in the final week of the session.

Felsch, 23, of New Oxford, especially enjoys receiving those perks. "I look forward to coming every Thursday," she said.

Mintmier, 23, of McSherrystown, said strikes and spares are his favorite part of bowling. "Getting a strike or a spare isn't easy," he said. "That's why I like getting them."

"I sign up for the league every eight weeks," said Carl, 24, of Spring Grove. "It's fun, and it gives me something to do. I also enjoy helping the other bowlers."

The next session of Striking Stars begins Thursday, June 1. Cost is $8 per bowler every week and shoe rental is $2 per week.

"One of the nice things about a bowling league is that everyone plays," Gessner said. "No one sits on the bench."