Special Olympic Showdown

Hays Heat to compete in winter competition


Submitted photo

Giovanni Pezulich smiles after bowling a strike.

Julia Fender, Staff Writer

Hays Heat isn’t just what Buda gets during the summer. What many people don’t know is that Hays Heat is the name of the district’s very own Special Olympics team. Special Olympics is where all of the school district’s special education programs come together in a battle between the districts. Currently the Special Olympics athletes are training for their bowling competition that is fast approaching. 

Katherine Aguirre lines up her shot on the ramp. Submitted photo
Alee Longoria prepares to bowl with Ms. Montemayor helping prep for her shot. (Submitted photo)

The Special Olympics Bowling team is currently practicing every Thursday at the bowling alley in San Marcos to prepare for the annual winter competition on Dec. 8. Hays Heat will compete against other Hays CISD secondary schools. 

“This is something that is geared towards them, built for them, made for them, so it’s one of those things where it’s just a perfect match,” Alexis Montemayor, foundational learning teacher, said. 

Many of the athletes first begin Special Olympics when they turn 8 years old and are eligible to compete. Bowling is often the very first sport that they’re introduced to and compete in. Hays Heat has been established for 22 years now and the bowling competition just as long. This year JHS is contributing 14 athletes. The Hays district, however, is contributing 140 athletes. 

“I’m pretty good. It takes time. I get strikes once in a while,” freshman athlete Giovanni Pezulich said.  

The bowling team practices with all grade levels that are eligible and with kids of many different needs. The training is both practice for the team as much as it is also a chance for the team to socialize with old friends, old teachers, and many different kids that they may not know at all. Each athlete goes through a cycle of turns in many different lanes and with different accommodations. 

“Nice to see them but sad,” freshman athlete Humberto Rodriguez said about reuniting with old friends and teachers. 

The Special Olympics caters to more than the need for fun for the athletes. The Special Olympics serves to create an inclusive environment which boosts confidence within the team and raises the Jaguar spirit. 

“They have a blast because they feel so confident. They have a good time especially being here too because there’s such a nature of, ‘Let’s compete! Let’s go perform!’ They feed into that spirit too” Montemayor said.