Everyone who bowls or helps in this tournament wins.
The Carolina Bowling Alliance, a group based in Raleigh, will have its 17th annual Blind Bowlers Tournament and Shootout next weekend in Surfside Beach.
The tournament, for people with little or no vision, will roll Saturday and Sunday at Surfside Bowl Entertainment Center.
James Benton, the alliance’s outreach coordinator – as well as president of the Raleigh Outlaws blind bowlers group (www.raleighoutlaws.org) and second vice president of the American Blind Bowling Association ( www.abba1951.org) – said bowling scores in multiple ways for people who refuse to let visual impairment keep them from enjoying the sport.
Employed by the state of North Carolina as a job developer and coach for young people with visual impairments, Benton called his occupation, which he wants to continue for another five to 10 years, “a very fulfilling part of my life,” and the blind bowling pastime follows that path as well.
It’s helping people to develop confidence in the ability to compete. We can teach that through sports. If they can learn to compete and have fun and enjoy one another, it carries out into other aspects of life that you take command of. It just changes things when you feel good about who you are and takes that heavy weight off your shoulders. The Carolina Bowling Alliance has a motto: fun, fellowship and sportsmanship.
The Raleigh Outlaws blind bowlers group started with about 12 people. Today, we’re the largest blind bowling program in the country, with about 60 members.
I was raised in the mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville, and I got to see the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. No one can convince me there is anything more beautiful. That’s what I remember, and I still carry that vision in my head. I don’t miss sight per se, but it would be great to lay eyes on my son, daughter and three grandkids. I saw my wife when she was a kid, so I can build on what I think my spouse looks like. In my head, she still has a childish face, because that’s what I recall.
At age 55, I like to push myself to do things that I don’t know would have secured that level of confidence and self-esteem if I was not part of a bowling program.
I’ll practice in an end lane, practicing my technique, throwing, posture and approach. ... We do more practice during summertime, when the league is off.